UN says Tanzania refusing asylum to Mozambicans fleeing war


Temporary houses in the Napala Agrarian Center of Metuge District, Cabo Delgado, northern Mozambique, on Feb. 24. (Alfredo Zuniga/AFP/Getty Images)


By Matthew Hill


The UN Refugee Agency said it’s deeply concerned by ongoing reports of people fleeing fighting in Mozambique’s Cabo Delgado province being forcibly returned after crossing into Tanzania.


UNHCR, as the agency is known, received direct testimonies and other information that Tanzania had repatriated several thousand Mozambicans since last year, including more than 1,500 this month, it said in a statement on its website Tuesday.


An insurgency in Mozambique’s far north has claimed more than 2,800 lives since it began in October 2017, and about 724,000 people have fled their homes. A March attack near a $20 billion liquefied natural gas project that Total SE is building prompted the company to evacuate all its staff and halt work for at least a year. Thousands of people displaced in that attack near the Tanzanian border are effectively cornered by the worsening insurgency and not all are able to escape by boat.


“People told UNHCR they trekked for days to the Rovuma River, crossing it by boat to reach Tanzania, from where they were returned by the authorities,” the agency said. “Many were women and young children.”


George Simbachawene, Tanzania’s home affairs minister, didn’t answer calls or immediately reply to a text message seeking comment.


This article was published by Bloomberg.