Monday, July 26, 2021

UN tells Tanzania to stop sending Mozambican refugees back to danger 

Nearly 800,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique since armed groups, some affiliated with Islamic State militants, began launching attacks in the region.

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International humanitarian agencies estimate nearly 800,000 people have been displaced in Mozambique’s northern Cabo Delgado province since armed groups, some affiliated with Islamic State militants, began launching attacks in the region in 2017.

As a result of the violence, thousands of Mozambicans have fled north to neighbouring Tanzania and tried to enter as refugees.

Most are rejected at the border, while many of those who are admitted are then forcibly returned via  different border posts.

UNHCR spokesman Babar Baloch told a news briefing in Geneva that nearly 10,000 Mozambicans have been forcibly removed from Tanzania since January.

The UN refugee agency is repeating its call to Tanzanian authorities to stop forcibly deporting asylum seekers back to Mozambique, where their lives are in danger.

Nearly three months have passed since militants attacked civilians in the gas-rich coastal town of Palma in northern Mozambique, killing dozens and displacing more than 70,000.

The level of violence has now diminished, but the UNHCR says armed conflict and insecurity continue to displace thousands of people.

At the briefing, Baloch said people are fleeing daily in a desperate search for safety both elsewhere in Mozambique and across the border in Tanzania.

“9,600 desperate people trying to seek a refuge across the border inside Tanzania and being forced to return to a situation of danger is really grave and it is a dire situation, Baloch said.

Refugees must not be forced back into a situation of danger, he added, as doing so violates the principle of no forced return.

International human rights law states that no one should be returned to a country where they would face torture or other treatment that could cause them irreparable harm.

Baloch said UNHCR teams along the Tanzania-Mozambique border say people being forcibly returned to Mozambique arrive in desperate condition. Many become separated from their family members adding to their anguish.

“Those pushed back from Tanzania end up in a dire situation at the border and are exposed to gender-based violence and health risks as many are sleeping in the open at night in extreme cold without blankets or a roof over their heads,” Baloch said. “There is an urgent need for emergency relief items including food.”

Tanzanian authorities were not available for comment. Senior officials in the ministry of home affairs did not respond to Reuters calls and messages.

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