Prospects for Peaceful Refugee Integration in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania
The Tanzanian Context: Conflict Between Refugees and Host Populations
For much of its post-independence history, and even before formal independence, Tanzania was regarded as one of the most welcoming countries in Africa towards refugees. Under President Julius Nyerere, Tanzania welcomed refugees from apartheid-era South Africa, the conflict-riven countries of Mozambique, Zambia, Zimbabwe and Angola and political and ethnic turmoil in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Burundi. However, in the wake of a refugee influx from the Congo, Rwanda and Burundi in the late 1990s and the early 2000s, government and public attitudes towards refugees have hardened considerably. Today, the vast majority of refugees are required to live in refugee camps and those refugees that are unable to live in camps generally live in hardship and in fear of their Tanzanian neighbours. Research suggests that relationships between Tanzanians and refugees in urban areas is strained and that refugees fear exposure and xenophobia.
Yet reports also suggest that integration into social networks is key to refugees being able to flourish in their countries of asylum – even more so than legal status. Yet refugees’ fear of xenophobia and misconceptions about refugees among members of host communities can also lead to insularity among refugees, perpetuating division between refugees and host community members.
Improving relationships between refugees and the Tanzanian host community is increasingly important for refugee protection in Tanzania. A decline in refugee numbers since the height of the conflicts in the Great Lakes region and the government’s determination to close the remaining refugee camps means that Tanzania must identify other options for hosting refugees besides encampment. Refugee camps are not sustainable when refugee numbers go down.
Should the closure of refugee camps lead to more refugees in urban areas, the effective provision of social and other services to refugees will require an understanding of how services can be provided in a way that serves refugees but does not alienate the host population and lead to conflict and xenophobia.
While research on Tanzania’s urban refugee population has been conducted before, little research has been conducted on the Congolese refugee population, which now constitutes the majority of refugees in Tanzania. Little research has also been conducted on how peaceful relations between urban refugees and host country nationals can be pursued in Tanzania – even though such integration will increasingly be the norm. As it becomes more probable that Tanzania will need to adopt a revised policy on refugee protection that will include hosting refugees in urban areas, finding out how peaceful integration can be promoted becomes more important.
Questions that need to be answered include:
1. How do refugees survive in Dar es Salaam?
2. How do refugees’ lives intersect with those of their Tanzanian hosts?
3. How do host community members feel about living with urban refugees?
4. How do refugees feel about living with host country nationals?
5. How do refugees successfully integrate into local communities?
This proposed project aims to answer the questions raised above. Focus groups discussions and interviews with host country nationals from areas where refugees live will provide a profile of host country attitudes towards refugees. Focus group discussions and interviews with community leaders and refugees will provide data on how refugees survive and their attitudes towards host country nationals. Finally, extended field work with four urban refugees will provide a profiles of refugee survival strategies and integration.
The project will lead to valuable conclusions on how refugees survive in Dar es Salaam and how peaceful relationships can be fostered between refugees and members of the host community.
In addition, the information collected will be used to provide recommendations on the implementation of programs to peacefully integrate refugees into Tanzania.
The dissemination of project findings to stakeholders will also facilitate the development of better strategies for providing assistance to refugees in urban areas as well as support efforts to rehabilitate Tanzania’s flawed refugee protection regime.
Data on refugee social networks and relations between refugees and members of the host community will be gathered through focus group discussions and interviews with members of the refugee community, community leaders and host community members.
Focus group discussions with members of the refugee community will be used to gather refugees’ perceptions of how they are treated by members of the host community, the underlying and stated reasons for that treatment and their perception of how that treatment has affected their attitudes towards integration. Focus group discussions with members of the host community in neighborhoods where refugees reside will also be held to assess host community members’ attitudes towards refugees.
Interviews with refugees and community leaders will explore how refugees survive in Dar es Salaam, their social networks, other support services that they rely upon for survival as well as their degree of integration into the host community.
In addition, continuous field visits and follow up interviews will be conducted with four urban refugees, half of whom will be women. These field visits and interviews will continue over the three-month primary research period. Because these visits and interviews will take place over an extended period, they will allow for sufficient time to profile how refugees survive and their relationships with the host community.
My prior work with Asylum Access Tanzania—an NGO that works with refugees in Dar es Salaam—will facilitate research with a community that is normally averse to contact with non-refugees and that tends to fear exposure. Because I have existing relationships with refugee community leaders and refugees, I will be able to conduct my research without having to “start from scratch” to develop relationships with refugees. This will allow primary research to be begin quickly and to be conducted less expensively.
At the end of the primary research phase, I will analyze the data to provide profiles of refugee survival techniques in Dar es Salaam as well as profiles of host community attitudes towards refugees. Recommendations will be provided on how assistance to refugees can be provided in an urban Tanzanian setting as well as how successful refugee integration can be sustained.
Timeline for Completion
A literature review for this project would commence September 2012 and end October 2012. Field research for this project would begin in October 2012 and end December 2012. Analysis of the data and the production of the report will take place from January 2013 to April 2013.
Draft reports would be disseminated to NGOs for comments on the report’s recommendations. Findings would be presented to UNHCR for comment and for a UNHCR reply on how UNHCR was effecting the organization’s goals for integrating refugees and asylum seekers into the host community in Tanzania. This step would encourage UNHCR to take further action to work with stakeholders to promote refugees’ successful integration in Tanzania. The inclusion of UNHCR’s reply to the findings in the final report will serve as a further encouragement to act on the report’s recommendations.
Asylum Access would then co-release the report with the International Peace Research Association. Copies will be disseminated to the U.S. State Department and international and national non-governmental organizations to highlight the need to take action to integrate refugees and to extend the report’s impact.
Relationship to the International Peace Research Association Foundation’s Goals and Mission
Unsuccessful integration of refugees into host communities has caused violence and heightened xenophobic attitudes in other countries. Notably, in South Africa, resentment by refugees towards their treatment by the South African government and hostility be host community members to refugees has led to violence from both sides. In May 2008, more than 60 people were killed in the country after violence spread from city to city.
Although such violence has not yet occurred in Dar es Salaam, relationships between refugees and their host community remains fractured. Many urban refugees report that they fear imprisonment and deportation and therefore conceal their identities from Tanzanians and from the government and UNHCR. As the government closes refugee camps, it drives more refuges towards the country’s urban areas. More urban refugees are also likely to settle in urban areas, amongst members of the host community, as refugee inflows continue from ongoing conflict in the Great Lakes and the Horn of Africa.
Yet government policy does not promote integration. And refugees report alienation from the host community and from the host state. Worryingly, sentiment against refugees and migrants is also turning negative, potentially exacerbating degenerating relationships between Tanzania and its refugee community.
The International Peace Research Association Foundation supports research that leads to nonviolent ways of resolving conflict. My proposed research project seeks to identify ways for Tanzania and for stakeholders to find ways for Tanzania to integrate refugees and for stakeholders to provide services to refugees in ways that do not create conflict between refugees and the host community and that promote peaceful coexistence between refugees and the host community.
 On Tanzania’s refugee law, see Khoti H. Kamanga, The (Tanzania) Refugees Act of 1998: Some Legal and Policy Implications, 18 J. Refugee Studies 100 (2005). On the situation of self-settled refugees, see Asylum Accesss, No Place Called Home: A Report on Urban Refugees Living in Dar es Salaam (2011).
 South Africa: Home Affairs Denies Refugee ‘Riot,’ allAfrica.com, June 5, 2012, http://allafrica.com/stories/201206051070.html; McKeed Kotlolo, Graeme Hosken & Philani Nobembe, Riot puts spotlight on ‘violation’ of refugees, Times Live, June 6, 2012, http://www.timeslive.co.za/news/2012/06/05/riot-puts-spotlight-on-violation-of-refugees; Nathan Geffen, Shattered: Myths: The xenophobic violence in South Africa, Treatment Action Campaign, June 16, 2008, http://www.tac.org.za/community/node/2350.
 International Organization for Migration, In Pursuit of the Southern Dream: Victims of Necessity 31-40 (2009); Mozambique/Tanzania: Horn migrants beaten, deported, imprisoned, IRIN, Sept. 19, 2011, http://www.irinnews.org/Report/93759/MOZAMBIQUE-TANZANIA-Horn-migrants-beaten-deported-imprisoned.
Books and Monographs
Marc Sommers, Fear in Bongoland: Burundi Refugees in Urban Tanzania (2001)
Cassandra R. Veney, Forced Migration in East Africa: Democratization, Structural Adjustment and Refugees (2007)
Natalie Briant & Andrew Kennedy, An Investigation of the Perceived Needs and Priorities Held by African Refugees in an Urban Setting in a First Country of Asylum, 17 J. Refugee Studies 437 (2004)
Elizabeth H. Campbell, Urban Refugees in Nairobi: Problems of Protection, Mechanisms of Survival, and Possibilities for Integration, 19 J. Refugee Studies 396 (2006)
Sreeram Sundar Chaulia, The Politics of Refugee Hosting in Tanzania: From Open Door to Unsustainability, Insecurity and Receding Receptivity, 16 J. Refugee Studies 147, 154-55 (2003)
Sarah Dryden-Peterson, ‘I Find Myself as Someone Who is in the Forest’: Urban Refugees as Agents of Social Change in Kampala, Uganda, 19 J. Refugee Studies 381 (2006)
Sarah Dryden-Peterson & Lucy Hovil, Local integration as a durable solution: refugees, host populations and education in Uganda, UNHCR Working Paper Series No. 93 (2003)
Alexandra Fielden, Local integration: an under-reported solution to protracted refugee situations, UNHCR Working Paper Series No. 158 (2008)
Lucy Hovil, Self-settled Refugees in Uganda: An Alternative Approach to Displacement, 20 J. Refugee Studies 599 (2007)
Khoti H. Kamanga, The (Tanzania) Refugees Act of 1998: Some Legal and Policy Implications, 18 J. Refugee Studies (2005)
Lucy Karanja, The Educational Pursuits and Obstacles for Urban Refugee Students in Kenya, 1 International J. for Cross-Disciplinary Research in Education 147 (2010)
Loren B. Landau, Protection and Dignity in Johannesburg: Shortcomings of South Africa’s Urban Refugee Policy, 19 J. Refugee Studies 308 (2006)
Loren B. Landau & Marguerite DuPonchel, Laws, Policies, or Social Position? Capabilities and the Determinants of Effective Protection in Four African Cities, 24 J. Refugee Studies 1, 17-18 (2011)
Gillian Mann, “Wakimbizi, wakimbizi”: Congolese refugee boys’ and girls’ perspectives on life in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 14 Environment & Urbanization 115 (2002).
Marc Sommers, Young, Male and Pentecostal: Urban Refugees in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania, 14 J. Refugee Studies 347 (2001)
Ministry of Home Affairs, National Refugee Policy (2003)
Sara Pavanello, Samir Elhawary & Sara Pantuliano, Hidden and exposed: Urban refugees in Nairobi, Kenya (Humanitarian Policy Group Working Paper) (2010)
Bonaventure Rutinwa, Asylum and refugee policies in Southern Africa (Paper presented at SAMP/LHR/HSRC Workshop on Regional Integration, Poverty and South Africa’s Proposed Migration Policy, Pretoria, 23 April 2002)