Dar es Salaam. A new report released Tuesday urges important stakeholders to “strongly” advocate with donors on the need for resources to support food and nutrition security of the refugees and asylum seekers at Nyarugusu na Nduta refugee camps as food security in the camps continue to worsen.
The report, named ‘Community and Household Surveillance North-Western Tanzania – Programme Outcome Monitoring in Nyarugusu and Nduta Refugee Camps,’ said increased support for food at the camps is critical until practical and durable solutions, which include voluntary repatriation and resettlement, are implementable.
As of July 31, 2023, Tanzania hosted 213,426 refugees, mainly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The refugees reside in Nyarugusu camp (Kasulu District) and Nduta camp (Kibondo District) in North-Western Tanzania.
Renewed civil unrest in the eastern DRC caused by fighting between non-state armed groups and government forces saw a new wave of asylum seekers fleeing their homes, mainly from North Kivu, in search of safety from the beginning of the year.
As of July 31, 2023, 12,245 individuals had arrived in Kigoma, of which 11,082 were relocated to Nyarugusu camp, according to the report.
However, the report states that the level of humanitarian assistance, including food, shelter, non-food items, primary health care, education and water, sanitation, and hygiene, has been severely hampered by inadequate funding.
Refugees have become increasingly dependent on humanitarian assistance to meet their basic needs, following limited opportunities to engage in meaningful livelihood activities.
“[The] food security situation in the camp further deteriorated following the distribution of reduced rations and reduced level of other services in the camp,” the report notes.
“Food insecure households increased from 25 per cent to 34 per cent, while food secure households that able to meet food needs without engaging in coping decreased from nine per cent to one per cent,” added the report by the World Food Programme (WFP).
The report further highlights that households with insufficient food consumption increased, whereby adults eating one meal also rose from 18 per cent to 42 per cent. The average number of days food last went down for all food items, with cereals lasting an average of 16 days from 21 in 2022, it found.
“The capacity of refugees to complement the food was limited by the unavailability of alternative livelihood sources due to encampment policy, hence full dependence on humanitarian assistance,” the report, conducted from July 27 to August 7, 2023, states.
“Households applied more extreme coping strategies whereby consumption-based coping surged to the highest figure on record, while households adopting crisis and above livelihood coping almost doubled,” it adds. “Female-headed households were more affected with increased food insecurity in the camps.”
In May this year, WFP announced that it’d slash to half the food rations refugees need due to a critical funding shortage, with Sarah Gordon-Gibson, WFP’s Country Director in Tanzania, saying she was “deeply concerned that drastic cuts will force refugees into further vulnerabilities.”
The call was followed up by one from Tanzanian authorities, which appealed to development partners and donors in August to support the influx of new refugees from the DRC.
Between August 2022 and July 2023, 6,763 Burundians voluntarily repatriated to Burundi, while 6,594 Congolese and 209 Burundian refugees and those other nationalities have been resettled to the third countries.
Following the decision of the 23rd meeting of the Tripartite Commission for Voluntary Repatriation of Burundian refugees in Tanzania held in Burundi in May 2023, repatriation of Burundians has moved from facilitation to promotion following improvement in the security situation to guarantee peaceful return.
However, a total shift to the promotion phase will be guided by developing a well-defined timeline and roadmap based on assessing the impact of repatriation during the 28th TWG meeting to be held this month in Tanzania.