Asylum Access Tanzania (AATZ) provides legal assistance to Tanzania’s growing population of urban refugees. Tanzania has become a critical safe haven for refugees fleeing conflict in the Great Lakes region and the Horn of Africa. It continues to host one of the largest refugee populations in Africa.
Although Tanzania is a signatory to the 1951 Refugee Convention, refugees are required to live in camps where they face severe constraints on their right to move freely and to seek safe and legal employment. Due to the overcrowded and often unsanitary living conditions, many refugees choose to live outside camps in one of Tanzania’s cities. Some refugees flee because their persecutors are also living in the same camps. Yet only a small number have legal permits to leave.
As a result, refugees living outside camps are under constant risk of arrest and detention and find it difficult to seek justice or protection. Without legal status, many refugees cannot work to feed their families and live in poverty on urban margins. AATZ’s legal assistance helps refugees win release from unjust detention, access employment, attend university, reunite with family members, access food and housing, and obtain legal permission to remain outside the camps when needed.
Our Know Your Rights trainings empower refugees to understand their rights, while Women’s Empowerment Groups help refugee women access specialized training, counseling and support. AATZ is also reaching out to undocumented refugees through Community Outreach Fellows, refugees working to conduct outreach to urban refugees,to better address their needs.
Through policy advocacy, AATZ is working to transform local laws and practices to match Tanzania’s commitment to international refugee laws and human rights standards. This includes encouraging the Tanzanian government to adopt a policy on urban refugees as well as efforts to raise awareness about the administrative detention of refugees and asylum seekers.
In 2013, AATZ released a landmark report, “Immigration detention in Tanzania: A prison survey,” which presents findings on the numbers and legal issues of detained refugee and asylum seekers and demonstrating the role for civil society in working together with government to strengthen screening and assessment processes. Download the report here.
News and Updates from Tanzania
- Photo Essay: Refugee Livelihoods in Tanzania
- Video: Refugee Women’s Empowerment in Tanzania
- Urban Refugees in Tanzania
- AATZ’s Submission to the UN Special Rapporteur on the Human Rights of Migrants
- VLA Blog: Karibuni wote Tanzania?