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The East African : Oct 20th 2014
The EastAfrican NEWS OCTOBER 18-24,2014 TEACHERS NOW DEMAND FOR GRATUITY Tanzania grants citizenship to Burundi refugees Ove≥ 162,000 ≥efugees who came into the count≥y in 1972 can now enjoy the ≥ights and p≥ivileges of citizens By ROSEMARY MIRONDO Special Correspondent into the country in 1972 fleeing ethnic conflict in their country. The naturalisation now gives the T refugees citizenship with rights to employment and property. Among those set to enjoy the rights are teachers who have been working on four-year contracts, who hope to be employed on permanent and pensionable terms. They are also seeking gratuity for the previous contract periods served. “We entered into contracts of four years as refugee teachers who deserve to be paid gratuity at the end of each contract, but so far only one of us has got benefits,” said Meshak Juvenary, the chairman of the Refugee Teachers Union. He said he there were about 70 teachers seeking gratuity. Mr Juvenary said one of the teachers who started teaching in the 1980s was paid Tsh6.3 million ($3,673) after completion of six contracts but the gratuity was withheld in 2007 when the naturalisation process started. Mr Juvenary said the teachers now expect to become permanent employees and get their full payment arrears, which range between Tsh19 million ($11,079) and Tsh9 million ($5,248) per person depending on the year one started. Tanzanian Minister for Home anzania has granted citizenship to 162,156 Burundians who came Affairs Mathias Chikawe said the teachers should make the claims to the Ministry of Education, adding that entitlement to benefits would depend on the terms of employment. “Normally, the local government authorities are mandated to employ teachers and are in a better place to decide if they will be paid or not,” he said. He, however, said that after the naturalisation process, the teachers are entitled to all benefits including accessing the social security fund. Urambo education officer Revo- catus Mande confirmed that the teachers were not paid the gratuity because they did not have work permits. A work permit is needed to process such payments but is not given to people living in refugee camps. “Now that they have been natu- ralised, we are going to look at what can be done to process their payments,” Mr Mande said. The naturalisation started in 2007 when 222,036 Burundi refugees were asked to choose between becoming Tanzania citizens and repatriation. At least 45,549 refugees in the settlements of Katumba and Mishamo in Katavi and Ulyankulu, Tabora region agreed to be repatriated while 171,629 chose to be naturalised. Mr Chikawe said the new citizens would continue residing in their current locations but are allowed freedom of movement to other re- 3 Refugees in a settlement. Most of the former Burundi refugees can now work without permits. Picture: File THE STATISTICS 222,036 Burundi refugees were asked to choose between repatriation and citizenship. 45,549 refugees in the settlements of Katumba and Mishamo in Katavi and Ulyankulu, Tabora region agreed to be repatriated. 171629 chose to be naturalised 32,000 Refugee from Rwanda were granted citizenship. 88,288 refugees currently hosted by Tanzania. 2007 gions under the citizenship law of 1995. The newly naturalised Tanza- nians have been actively contributing to the Tanzanian economy, particularly through growing tobacco, a cash crop common in Tabora and Katavi Regions where they reside in settlements. In 2012, about 5 per cent of the The year when the naturalisation process started Mpanda district council’s revenue came from the taxation of income from tobacco grown by refugees. “It can be said that not only on humanitarian grounds but also given this contribution to the local economy, it was right that the entire population be given the opportunity to fully access the range of rights and services available to Tanzanians,” International Rescue Committee country director in Tanzania Elijah Okeyo said. Tanzania now hosts 88,288 refu- gees at Nyarugusu, the only remaining refugee camp in Tanzania, compared with the 1.2 million refugees and 15 camps the nation had in 1995. Of the refugees, the American government has agreed to resettle 32,000 Congolese in the DRC from next year. In the 1980s, Tanzania granted citizenship to 32,000 refugees from Rwanda who now reside in settlements at Katavi. However, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) representative in Tanzania, Joyce Mends, said the adoption of Burundians was unprecedented. “No country has ever given citi- zenship to a group of refugees of this size at one time,” Ms Mends said.
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