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Dar Cracks Down On Aliens

The East African (Nairobi), 12 October 2000

Dar es Salaam - City authorities have launched a permanent crackdown on suspected illegal immigrants said to have invaded the city in large numbers.

The Dar Regional Commissioner, Lt. Yusuph Makamba, who is also the chairman of Dar's Security Committee, told The EastAfrican last week that the decision was reached after a committee report indicated that illegal immigrants were on the increase all over the city.

This is not an operation, it's a permanent exercise different from other operations. This one will involve the public from ten-cell leaders, ward and district leaders to the Immigration Department, he said.

We have discovered that Dar is home to hundreds of illegal immigrants from countries such as Ethiopia, Eritrea, Somalia, Burundi, Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of Congo, India and China, who do not declare their presence to the Immigration Department. Most of them are said to be hiding in hotels and guest houses in the city, Lt. Makamba said.

Commenting on whether the matter should have been left to the Immigration Department, Lt. Makamba said: I'm not convinced by the way these people deal with this problem. They (Immigration Dept) usually give me an average of one illegal immigrant per month... this is embarrassing, he said.

Many of the illegal immigrants are said to be doing business while others are illegally employed.

Although no official word was forthcoming on whether the move would also involve the 700-plus Somali refugees of South Asian origin who have been in Tanzania since 1991, it seems they will not be spared in the crackdown.

Usually when a government decision is reached, if there are changes they should also be communicated to those concerned... We have not received any information withdrawing the decision (to expel them), the acting permanent secretary in the Ministry of Home Affairs, Mr. Zulu Lyana, told The EastAfrican.

Mr. Lyana said information about the Somali refugees could be obtained from the spokesman of the Immigration Department, Mr. Hebert Chilambo, who declined to comment. The deputy director of Immigration, Mr. C. Simbalyegula, also declined comment.

We have our immigration laws ... someone cannot enter Tanzania under a religious association's umbrella. What the Immigration people did in 1991/90 was illegal as it was against the law.

He added: The Immigration Department says the Somali refugees entered Tanzania under the Khoja Ithna-Asheri Jamaat by a presidential clemency... This was contrary to the law as some of them possessed Pakistani passports ... but again, not all of the 3,000-plus Somali refugees stayed in Dar. Many have since left the country.

The Somali refugees' issue is further complicated by the religious community's failure to declare the refugees to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

In February this year, the Tanzanian government ordered the repatriation of 700-plus Somali refugees who were being hosted by the Khoja Ithna-Asheri Jamaat Community. Since then, no more residence permits have been issued to them but todate, no action has been taken, and they continue being in the country without proper documents.

The repatriation reportedly stalled due to failure by the community to meet the costs of the exercise. The community has issued a statement saying it cannot afford the repatriation.