A refuge from conflict
For decades Tanzania was home to the largest refugee population in Africa. By the year 2000, there were around 800,000 refugees living in camps in the northeast.
A refuge still needed
The situation in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo remains unstable. It therefore looks as if Tanzania will remain a place of refuge for people fleeing violence in the region for some time to come.
Some of these refugees arrived here over forty years ago, fleeing civil war. Later, many more hundreds of thousands poured into the country from the Great Lakes region as Tanzania’s neighbours – Burundi, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Rwanda – all suffered from conflict.
Now the number of refugees has reduced dramatically. Most Rwandans returned home soon after the peace settlement which followed the genocide in 1994.
Over the last few years, many from Burundi have gone back to their country since it has become more stable. Others have been asked to leave by the Tanzanian government as it closes refugee camps. But over 160,000 Burundi refugees (who arrived in the 1970s) have been granted citizenship. This is one of the largest naturalisation programmes offered by any country anywhere.