4 Strategy conceptualisation and the role of UNHCR
This chapter presents and analyses the conceptualisation and composition of the TANCOSS and the strategic role of the HC’s Special Initiative. Box 4.1 shows the milestones from November/December 2006 up to the launch of the HC’s Special Initiative on PRS in March 2008.
Box 4.1 Milestones in conceptualising TANCOSS and the HC Special Initiative
|The Government of Tanzania flagged to UNHCR that it intended to close all camps and settlements and that Tanzania would be a Refugee Free Zone. The refugee-free pledge was part of the 2005 election manifesto of CCM, the ruling party. The Old Settlements were not specifically mentioned at this stage.|
Burundi in Dar
|Tripartite meeting was held with open discussion on implementation of the Refugee Free Zone and closing of the settlements. Tripartite meeting recommended establishment of Old Settlements Task Force charged with finding a set of durable solutions for the Old Settlements. First steps were to conduct a census, a registration and intention survey and commission an independent socio-economic study of the Old Settlements.|
||Population census conducted (UNHCR with the two Governments).|
|Individual registration (personal turn-up) and intention survey carried out. ProGres level III registration of every individual and recording of intentions (voluntary repatriation versus application for naturalisation).|
|Independent socio-economic study, and presentation of findings to stakeholder meeting, followed by a full report with recommendations (core of TANCOSS).|
|12th Tripartite Meeting held in Bujumbura. Study report and recommendations presented, approved by Tripartite Meeting as the strategy. The Old Settlements Task Force was charged with implementing the strategy.|
|TANCOSS document was drafted and circulated. Operations began to establish UNHCR presence and repatriation pipeline in the Old Settlements.|
||Cabinet reshuffle and change of Home Affairs Minister|
||“Supplementary Appeal for Comprehensive Solutions for Burundian Refugees in Tanzania’s Old Settlements”. Produced in January/February 2008 and replaced the TANCOSS draft document almost immediately for all external matters, but was formally launched with HC’s visit to the Old Settlements in March.|
Launch of the HC’s Special Initiative for Protracted Refugees Situations.
4.1 TANCOSS – the strategy document
Following the agreement of the elements of the comprehensive solutions strategy, TANCOSS, at the 12th Tripartite meeting in Bujumbura in December 2007, the strategy document was circulated in January/February 2008. Implementation of the strategy was originally designed to take two years (January 2008-December 2009). TANCOSS consists of three pillars:
- Voluntary repatriation and reintegration in Burundi (Pillar 1);
- Naturalisation (Pillar 2);
- Full integration of the newly naturalised citizens (Pillar 3).
Tanzanian policies, aiming to become a refugee free zone, as well as the peace process in Burundi, which enabled the option of voluntary repatriation and reintegration in Burundi (Pillar 1) constituted the broader setting of TANCOSS. In June 2006, UNHCR announced a shift “from a policy of facilitation to promotion of return”, signalling that the situation in Burundi had improved significantly.
4.2 Motivations and considerations behind the strategy
This section looks at the motivations and considerations behind the different Pillars of TANCOSS. It is recognised in TANCOSS that there are challenges with regard to the voluntary repatriation and reintegration (Pillar 1), and the document recognises the challenges of repatriating families with very few ties to Burundi and also mentions that, “the absorption capacity in Makamba and Rururi Provinces (insert: of Burundi) will be particularly heavily tested by the number of returnees. Lack of timely funding and support for activities in Burundi could undermine efforts for successful reintegration”. The strategy does not take up the key issue of returnees having lost their rights to land but talks about the limited absorption capacity. TANCOSS IV (2009 revision) mentions the establishment of The Integrated Commission for Return and Integration and the creation of “rural integrated villages” aimed at assisting returnees, who have no possibility of accessing their land.
The motivation for the exceptional element of the strategy i.e. to offer naturalisation to a large group (Pillar 2) is, inter alia, linked to the government policies at the time of arrival as well as to the experience gained with regards to co-existence, economic contribution and ethnic affiliation to the host population (as discussed in Chapter 3). The choices given by the refugees in the survey carried out in the settlements in 2007 was mentioned as a motivating factor.
Moreover, the personal commitment and motivation of the Minister of Home Affairs, Joseph Mungai, was by several interviewees said to play a major role in promoting naturalisation, because of his personal knowledge of the settlements. He had been Minister of Agriculture (at the age of 28) when the Burundians came in 1972 and had been part of the decision to settle and allocate land to them. According to a senior UNHCR official, he therefore continued to have an understanding of the vision “you are not refugees, you are guests” and he also had the perspective that Africa should never lose its generosity towards refugees.
After the major government reshuffles in February 2008, the new MoHA minister, Lawrence Masha, continued the naturalisation process (although with a different approach). It was said in interviews with the Evaluation that by sticking to the decision he was putting his political carrier at risk, given that there was resistance both within the cabinet and in Parliament. He did however have the backing of the President and the Prime Minister. According to a senior UNHCR official, both MoHA ministers (Mungai and Masha), the Prime Minister and the President, assessed the option of naturalisation in the larger political context of past insecurity situations in several countries in the Great Lake region. Embarking on a comprehensive solutions strategy with an option of naturalisation was not a gesture to human nature, but a move seen in a broader political context of options. As explained by a UNHCR official: “If you push too many people back to Burundi, you may get a million coming back here the next day”. The same argument was offered in interviews in the MOHA (Refugee Department). The officials interviewed found that repatriation of all 220,000 refugees of the 1972 group could have led to serious security problems in Burundi, which could then threaten the fragile peace situation, resulting in another wave of refugees coming back into Tanzania.
It is also worth noting that naturalisation of refugees is not a new phenomenon in Tanzania. The 1972 group is the fifth group of refugees to be naturalised. However, it was the first time the offer was extended to Burundians and to such a large number of refugees as well as through individual processing rather than by decree.
With regard to Pillar 3 different views were offered as to why the settlements had to be closed and the residents moved. Local government representatives interviewed were of the opinion that the refugees should move out of the settlement and mingle with Tanzanians, so a Burundi enclave could be avoided mainly for security reasons. At a national level the view was that the group of refugees should not retain the feeling of being refugees, they should be part of Tanzanian communities. This is also the official view of the Government, as said by the Prime Minister: “The only obstacle is ensuring that we resettle these people in a way that they don’t feel as though they are being dumped. The thing that we ask of the international community is that it understands that we don’t want these people to remain in the same camps – the Old Settlements… Let them live in other communities, mix as much as possible with other Tanzanians. It may cause a bit of problem in terms of trying to assist them but we know our situation back home – it can be done if the idea is accepted”. The President at the launch of the Old Settlements Programme gave a similar view and so too has the Minister of Home Affairs in speeches.
Some interviews suggested that the Government was planning to use state land for commercial agricultural purposes and that the settlements had come in focus because state land is limited and would be attractive to have available for commercial purposes. Senior officials of UNHCR were of the view that land availability only became a hot issue as a result of the international food security crisis in 2008. It was at that time that the opportunity of utilizing the land for commercial farming came up for discussion. The Evaluation did not have an opportunity to triangulate this point with other sources.
Pillar 2 and Pillar 3 were linked together from the beginning, so when the Intention Survey asked about preferences i.e. repatriation or naturalisation, those who opted for naturalisation knew that they would be relocated and integrated in communities outside the present settlements. However, the TANCOSS document does not mention that the linking of Pillar 2 and Pillar 3 would imply the Government holding back the citizenship certificates until relocation had taken place. This decision appears to have been taken later.
An interesting point was raised by a senior official from UNHCR, who was involved both in conceptualisation and implementation of TANCOSS. It was explained that UNHCR staff had anticipated that Pillar 3 would be difficult to implement. In addition there were sentiments in UNHCR that this part of the strategy was unnecessary because leaving the Burundians in the settlements would be the most appropriate option. So rather than waiting for Pillar 3 to be drafted and agreed on, it would be important to promote swift implementation of Pillar 1 and two and in parallel work on the planning of the more difficult Pillar 3.
The view was that it was important to seize the window of opportunity of naturalisation and implement this without delay, fearing that discussions around Pillar 3 could, in a worst-case scenario, result in cancellation of the naturalisation and this should by all means be avoided. The Evaluation did not have an opportunity to triangulate this view with other sources, but it deserves mentioning as it illustrates the catalytic role played by UNHCR and puts the delay of Pillar 3 into an interesting perspective. It was also argued by different UNHCR staff that, in retrospect, there have been positive implications with the delayed implementation of Pillar 3. The delay has meant that when the strategy was published it was a negotiated document and the needs of the NNTs were better accommodated than in the initial discussions.
The Evaluation has not been able to ascertain if other strategic options, than the three Pillars, were discussed during the conceptualisation of TANCOSS, but interviews with senior UNHCR officials indicate that the three strategic options found in TANCOSS were those set by the Governments and aimed for throughout the process. Several thousand Burundians have been resettled to third countries since 2002, but those resettled do not include the 1972 group.
4.3 UNHCR’s protection mandate in the strategy
TANCOSS includes key elements of the “Framework for Durable Solutions for Refugees and Persons of Concern” (UNHCR, May 2003), which reiterates that each situation is a product of a specific context which needs to be taken into account in the design of solutions.
The TANCOSS was developed after a period of more than 20 years without any attention being paid to the 1972 group of refugees. UNHCR had left the settlements in 1985. Potential protection needs had therefore not been adhered to for a long time. The protection needs were, from UNHCR’s viewpoint after re-engaging, minor compared to other refugee groups and the UNHCR Country/Regional report (2008) only mentions the 1972 group’s need for protection in as far as “there will be some people who do not want to repatriate and do not individually qualify for citizenship either”. The report assesses the situation against UNHCR’s global and regional strategic objectives and finds no issues of concern for the 1972 group. The Age Gender Diversity Mainstreaming (AGDM) assessments carried out by UNHCR in settlements, as well as the registration exercise and the socio-economic study would have pointed to rights being violated. The Country/ Regional report (2009) finds that the NNTs are concerned about the conditions under which they will relocate (time, modality, assets etc), as well as having concerns with regards to the vulnerable persons in the settlement and their ability to function elsewhere when the existing communities were “broken up”. The reports do not discuss issues of protection in Burundi.
4.4 The strategy in an international context
TANCOSS was, seen in an international perspective, developed at a time when asylum space in developed countries was shrinking. During the 1980s and 1990s industrialized states increasingly tried to reduce the number of people from poor countries of the world seeking to enter into their territories as asylum seekers. In response to these developments the countries of Western Europe, North America and the Asia Pacific region introduced a vast array of measures to prevent the arrival of would-be refugees. This is when notions such as ’protection in regions of origin’ became of interest. Set to this background international development partners were more willing to fund naturalisation and relocation/ local integration of the Burundian refugees in Tanzania. This would reduce the pressure for resettlement.
4.5 The role of the High Commissioner’s Special Initiative
The strategic considerations of the Tanzania and Burundi Governments to find durable solutions were assisted by the HC’s Initiative on Protracted Refugee Situations. The process to seek durable solutions in Tanzania was well underway when the initiative was launched in 2008. The initiative included a special appeal, a visit by the HC to Tanzania and a High Level Dialogue Meeting in Geneva in December 2008.
These events were an initial boost to the strategy and to the catalytic role played by UNHCR. In addition the special initiative was a way to spur the international community to provide more resources to strategy implementation. The initiative also added a timeline for the goal of finding “durable and dignified solutions for the 1972 Burundian refugees in Tanzania”, which became the initial target dates for implementation and completion:
- Burundian refugees who opted for voluntary repatriation, to be repatriated by September 2009.
- Those who opt to remain, to be naturalised under the citizenship laws of Tanzania by the end of 2008 or early 2009.
- Naturalised refugees to be integrated in their new host community by the end of 2010.
The catalytic role played by the UNHCR office in Tanzania both in conceptualising and implementing TANCOSS is well documented. It is more difficult for the Evaluation to establish the contribution of the HC’s initiative. Those who were not close to the strategic players during the initial formulation and the implementation seem to know very little about the initiative. Those who are close to the implementation concur that the initiative added value to the process. Based on interviews and the study of documents, the Evaluation is of the view that at a strategic level, the HC initiative played a role in creating attention to the protracted refugee situation in Tanzania. The high-level missions by the High Commissioner and Assistant High Commissioner helped to build a bridge of trust, commitment and support to the Government of Tanzania. The High Commissioner met with the President and ministers and built confidence with them and the Prime Minister participated in the Dialogue meeting in Geneva in December 2008.
All interviews suggested that UNHCR played more than a catalytic role in the conceptualisation of TANCOSS. UNHCR was said to be instrumental, cases in point are the speedy responses by UNHCR in terms of fielding a census, the intention survey and the independent socio-economic study, and thereby providing the analytical underpinnings to the strategy in a very short time (6-9 months).
4.6 Conclusions on strategy conceptualisation and the role of UNHCR
TANCOSS was motivated by several factors, first of all Tanzanian policies to become a refugee free zone, the peace process in Burundi, and the experience with the well integrated group of 1972 refugees. The Tanzanian leadership’s view of “realpolitik” in the region, contemplating that sending back all the refugees of the 1972 group could result in new insecurity in Burundi and thereby another wave of refugees, was also important. Personal commitment by the Minister(s) of Home Affairs has also been instrumental, especially in the offering of naturalisation. Finally, the central Government table the view that the group would need to be relocated and integrated in Tanzanian communities in order to become Tanzanian. It was also proposed that the land of the settlements was to be used for other purposes.
At a strategic level TANCOSS follows the principles laid out internationally for durable solution strategies. The strategy includes an exceptional move i.e. the very fast naturalisation of an unprecedented number of refugees. In the international framework for naturalisation such processes are described as lengthy and gradual. The move by the Tanzanian government is different and takes the naturalisation as a fast process to be completed in a very short time.
UNHCR has played an instrumental role in the development of the strategy, although it appears, as the next chapter shows, that the reintegration in Burundi was possibly not assessed thoroughly beforehand. The HC’s Special Initiative did not play a role in the conceptualisation of the strategy but it played a role in boosting TANCOSS, especially at the time of the launch in early 2008 and at the Dialogue meeting in Geneva in December 2008. There are questions to be asked with regard to the choices offered in TANCOSS, especially tying together naturalisation and relocation/local integration. One may question why the refugees had to agree to move away from the settlements. As citizens this would be a violation of their rights and the uncertainty ahead for the NNTs emphasises this point.
 The Evaluation had four versions of TANCOSS in hand at the end of the fieldwork, three versions from 2008 and one from 2009.
 NASCIP, the particular strategy developed for this pillar and launched on 22nd June, 2010 is discussed further in Chapter 5.
 “Money Matters”, July 2009, p 4.
 TANCOSS I, p 9.
 TANCOSS IV, p 12.
 Interview with one senior UNHCR official, and UNHCR advisers, who had been part of the process from 2006 and interview with MoHA officials.
 Interview with senior UNHCR official.
 Interview with senior UNHCR official.
 Prime Minister of Tanzania, Mizengo Peter Pinda; Opening address of the High Commissioner’s Dialogue on Protracted Refugee Situations, Geneva, 19th December 2008.
 Thomson, Jessie: Durable Solutions for Burundian Refugees in Tanzania, Protracted Displacement, FMR 33 (year not stated).
 Interview with UNHCR staff and independent observers. The Evaluation did not cover this (complicated) issue in detail. Apparently, large parts of some settlements (Ulyankulu) are a forest reserve, which the Government’s forestry division would like to return to this state. Other parts are designated for agriculture and occupancy under wider eco-system multiple-use management plans. Only some parts (which are admittedly still very large areas) were earmarked for investors to take over for large-scale agriculture.
 In mid-2008 all the heads of households, who applied for naturalisation were told during the Intention Survey that ”if you are successful in your application for naturalisation, you will be required by Government to leave the Settlements. Where will you go? Name two places.”
 The Evaluation has not been able to clarify when this decision was taken.
 Interviews with UNHCR staff and PMO-RALG.
 Country /Regional Report 2008, p 5.
 Country /Regional Report 2009, p 13.
 Crisp J. (2009): ’A surrogate state? The role of UNHCR in Protracted Refugee Situations’.
 The Evaluation does not discuss UNHCR’s role and motivation in relation to durable solutions in general.
 Protracted Refugee Situations, High Commissioner’s Initiative, p.26, UNHCR 2008.
 This counts both for development partners and field staff of UNHCR. Staff changes also appear to play a role in this.
This page forms part of the publication 'Evaluation of the protracted refugee situation (PRS) for Burundians in Tanzania' as chapter 6 of 15
Version 1.0. 07-02-2011
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