Monday, September 9, 2013
Dar gives immigrants second chance
Immigrants recently expelled but still wish to stay can still apply for Tanzanian citizenship or resident permits as required by the country’s immigration procedures. President Jakaya Kikwete, who last month ordered all foreigners living in the country’s western region of Kagera illegally to leave the country immediately, now says they can stay if they put their papers right. But this fresh opportunity contradicts another statement issued in Parliament yesterday by the Minister for Information, Sports and Culture who ordered some 30,000 alleged illegal immigrants currently still in the country to leave immediately. Speaking to journalists in Dar es salaam yesterday, the Minister for Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, Bernad Membe, said the president gave what he called a ‘golden’ chance in Kampala on Thursday. Membe was briefing reporters on a range of issues agreed at an International Conference on the Great Lakes Region (ICGLR) at the Munyonyo Commonwealth Resort in Kampala. In Kampala, President Kikwete held private talks with his Rwandan counterpart, President Paul Kagame in an effort to defuse diplomatic tensions between the two .countries over the past three months. But Membe could not state if President Kikwete’s decision to grant another opportunity to illegal immigrants resulted from such private talks between the two Heads of State. According to the foreign affairs minister, the president’s directive applied to even those who voluntarily returned to their home countries but were willing to come back to Tanzania. The president’s directive comes amid government reports that there are still 30,000 illegal immigrants holed across the country -- mainly in border regions – and need to be deported.
This figure was issued in Dodoma by the Minister for Information, Youth, Culture and Sports, Dr Fenella Mukangara, at a media conference. Dr Mukangara said it was now proper to start an intensive campaign to deport by force all illegal immigrants, particularly those who did not pay heed to Kikwete’s order. "By September 4, 2013, some 21,717 illegal immigrants positively responded to Kikwete’s order by voluntarily leaving for their countries," she added. Minister Mukangara says government estimates show the country has some 52,000 illegal aliens at border areas. However, the minister could not verify how the government gathered such information. The majority of over 21,717 immigrants who left Tanzania were from Burundi – some 14,738 of them (about 68 per cent). But 6,563 of the illegal settlers were reportedly Rwandese, or about 30 per cent of the immigrant population; there were also 307 Ugandans; 89 Congolese and 20 Zambians.