Refugee Rights News






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August 2012

An urgent briefing on the situation of Burundian refugees in Mtabila camp in Tanzania

International Refugee Rights Initiative and Rema Ministries

(10 August 2012) On 21 July 2012, Tanzania’s Daily News reported that Tanzanian President, Jakaya Kikwete, had announced that “all refugee camps sheltering Burundian refugees would be closed down”. There was, the paper quoted him as saying, “no strong reason for the Burundians to stay […] when back home peace had been restored and life was back to normal in their motherland.”

The President’s comments intensified the fear and uncertainty that has been growing among Burundian refugees who have been living in Tanzania over the last number of years, but particularly those in Mtabila camp to whom the statement seemed to be chiefly directed. This population of approximately 38,000 refugees – most of whom fled Burundi in the 1990s – has been under mounting pressure to repatriate to Burundi. They have been threatened with termination of their refugee status, closure of the camp and subjected to restrictions on basic assistance, access to livelihoods and freedom of movement. On 31 July, a press statement from the Ministry of Home Affairs declared that “38,050 refugees” in Mtabila camp were to be “stripped” of their refugee status. This formal statement, referencing Article 4 of the Tanzanian Refugees Act and declaring that the camp would be closed on 31 December 2012, while not unexpected, brought the situation to a new climax.

This urgent briefing sets out some of the key challenges experienced by Mtabila’s refugees to date in the effort to close and vacate the camp. It focuses on the recent screening process, which was intended to identify who in the group required continued international protection prior to decisions on cessation. It concludes with a series of recommendations which could help to ensure that the outcome of the decision to declare cessation is one that increases peace and stability rather than exacerbates it.

Read the full briefing note.

May 2012

Darfurians in South Sudan: negotiating belonging in two Sudans

(Kampala, 23 May 2012) Today, the International Refugee Rights Initiative launched the seventh paper in its series on Citizenship and Displacement in the Great Lakes Region. The paper, “Darfurians in South Sudan: negotiating belonging in two Sudans” is about the construction of citizenship, identities and belonging at a moment of profound political change: the secession of South Sudan from the Republic of Sudan (Sudan or North Sudan) that took place on 9 July 2011.

Read more.

Also available in Arabic.

April 2012

Annual report 2009-2010

This report covers two years of the International Refugee Rights Initiative (IRRI)’s accomplishments in 2009 and 2010. This was perhaps IRRI’s most challenging period to date, whether in terms of achieving programme goals, maintaining staff safety or growing institutional capacity. Nevertheless, despite considerable obstacles, significant achievements were made.

Read more.

March 2012

Steps Towards Justice, Frustrated Hopes: Reflecting on the Impact of the ICC in Ituri

On 14 March 2012, the International Criminal Court (ICC) will hand down its first verdict in the case of former rebel leader Thomas Lubanga of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). As Iturians anxiously await the verdict, it is an opportune moment to reflect on the impact that the investigation and trial, alongside other activities of the ICC, have had in Lubanga’s native Ituri district. In an effort to bring the voices and concerns of Iturians to the fore in this reflection, the International Refugee Rights Initiative and our Iturian partner organization, the Association pour la promotion et la défense de la dignité des victims (APRODIVI), today launched a report “Steps Towards Justice, Frustrated Hopes: Some Reflections on the Experience of the International Criminal Court in Ituri”.

Read the full paper here.

(En francais)

January 2012

A Poisoned Chalice? Local civil society and the International Criminal Court’s engagement in Uganda

This paper reflects on the ICC’s engagement in Uganda through the lens of the author’s experience working with one of the largest national civil society organisations in Uganda at the time when the investigations was first announced and the first arrest warrants were issued.

Read the full paper here.

(En francais)

January 2012

Just Justice? Civil society, international justice and the search for accountability in Africa.

The introductory note to the series lays out the key questions that will be considered by the series. It will reflect local perspectives on international justice as it is being experienced in Africa. It aims to deepen the debate around a series of key questions and controversies facing the realisation of international justice, anchored in reflections from the ground, including local, national, regional and continental civil society.

Read the full introductory note here.

(En francais)