Tanzania has a long-standing history of hosting refugees and currently has 335,000 refugees living within its borders. Three decades ago, Tanzania hosted over one million refugees, primarily due to the civil war in Burundi during the ’90s. Though most have returned or received citizenship, some refugees remain in camps to this day.
The country has been a leader in regional peacebuilding efforts, allowing refugees to return home safely and advocating for other sustainable solutions. Most of the refugees, around 83 percent, reside in three refugee camps situated in the Kigoma region in the northwest of Tanzania. The Tanzania Government imposed a strict encampment policy partly due to the country's decision to give precedence to the repatriation of refugees to their home countries over local integration. As a result, they have limited opportunities to earn a livelihood or participate in Tanzania's economy. They cannot leave the camps to work, trade, or attend school.
The majority of these refugees are from Burundi, while a quarter of them are from the Democratic Republic of Congo, where conflict and insecurity have forced millions to flee their homes. Even though the borders are mostly shut, the instability in neighboring countries necessitates that organizations remain prepared for more refugees.
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