Since attaining its independence in 1961, Tanzania has historically been a steady and nonviolent nation. However, Tanzania’s stability has led it to become a sanctuary for refugees fleeing neighboring conflict-ridden countries. Despite the challenge of hosting so many refugees, Tanzania’s borders remain open and welcoming. Here are 10 facts about refugees in Tanzania:

  1. There are currently about 290,000 refugees in Tanzania, with the majority coming from Burundi and the remainder from the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
  2. An average of 700 refugees continues to arrive daily, straining the resources of the already overcrowded refugee camps.
  3. Burundian refugees arrive in Tanzania on the shore of Kakunga Beach. From there, they are carried by a series of boats to Kigoma Port, where they are bused to registration and granted asylum.
  4. Of the Burundian refugees taking shelter in Tanzania, about 78 percent are women and children.
  5. Tanzania is home to the world’s third largest refugee camp, Nyarugusu. Nyarugusu earned this status after it doubled in size due to the influx of Burundian refugees in April 2015.
  6. There are three primary refugee camps in Tanzania: Nyarugusu, Mtendeli and Nduta. All of these camps are at full capacity but continue to accept refugees.
  7. The camps, unprepared for the overflowing volume of refugees, have had to expand to nearby schools and churches for temporary shelters.
  8. Malaria is one of the biggest health risks to refugees in Tanzania, especially during the rainy season. Diarrhea, respiratory tract infections, and skin conditions are also very common.
  9. More than 100,000 refugees were vaccinated against cholera after an outbreak that killed 31 people. Since cholera is caused by unsanitary conditions and contaminated water, the camps have taken preventative measures by installing more sanitary regulations.
  10. In addition to creating sanitation standards, volunteers are providing hygiene education. These are both essential to prevent another outbreak as well as providing the refugees with knowledge they can employ once outside of the camps.

These 10 facts about refugees in Tanzania demonstrate the importance of aid and unity among borders. The dedication Tanzania has to help its neighbors is remarkable, and its effort to ensure that no individual is left behind is clear. Even as the camps begin to overflow, Tanzania continues to strive to give every refugee a fair chance.

Kelly Hayes

Photo: Flickr