DAR ES SALAAM (Xinhua) --
The UN refugees agency (UNHCR) said on Friday
refugees have the freedom of choice to return to their home
UNHCR Assistant High
Commissioner for Protection Volka Turk made the remarks at the
end of his four-day visit to Tanzania.
His visit was aimed
at discussing with the government and other partners on the
protection challenges and solutions for more than 340,000
refugees and asylum seekers from neighboring countries living in
Turk said the right
of refugees to return to their respective countries needed to be
respected, emphasizing that the choice had to be based on
“Refugees need to
have a meaningful choice of whether they wish to return home
based on the facts and realities on the ground,” he told a news
conference in the the commercial capital Dar es Salaam.
He said there should
not be any direct or indirect pressure put on refugees to choose
to return to their respective countries.
When asked about the
UNHCR’s stand regarding an agreement Tanzania and Burundi
entered which proclaimed that Burundi was now safe for the
return of refugees living in Tanzania, Turk said at the moment
his office supported those who chose to return to their
According to him,
humanitarian funds for refugees had doubled during the past
three years and needed to be tripled because of unwarranted
situations from around the world, hence prevention was the most
UNHCR commended the
government of Tanzania for its commitment to refugees’
protection and long-standing generosity towards those fleeing
conflict and persecution.
The majority of
refugees in Tanzania are from Burundi and the Democratic
Republic of Congo, with 87 percent of them living in three camps
in Kigoma region, in western Tanzania.