UNHCR denies having distributed military clothing to Burundian refugees in Tanzania

UNHCR denies reports that it would have distributed military clothes to the Burundian refugees living in Nduta camp in Tanzania.

Gogo Hukportie: “Inappropriate clothing were removed and handed over to local authorities”

At a press conference held this January 25, Gogo Hukportie, UNHCR representative in Burundi, said UNHCR could not give unsuitable clothes because it fully respects cultural, legal and religious norms of the host country. “No inappropriate or military-type clothing was distributed to the Burundian refugees in Tanzania by the UNHCR”.

She said that after some Burundian politicians issued statements over the distribution of military clothing in Burundian refugee camps in Tanzania.

Ms. Hukportie has said all this happened after the UNHCR distributed a donation of over 1, 5 million pieces of clothing received from a private donor to Burundian refugees in Tanzania in late 2018,.
“During the mass distribution which took place in presence of local authorities, UNHCR and its partner identified a number of items that were deemed inappropriate. They included some 1,900 camouflage items for men and boys. UNHCR immediately removed all the clothing items which it judged unsuitable,” she said adding that these clothes were later handed over to local authorities upon their request.

On Wednesday January 23, Kefa Nibizi, president of Sahwanya Frodebu nyakuri party, had called on the UNHCR higher representative to take severe sanctions against those who participated in the distribution of “military clothing” in refugee camps to prove that they were not at the mission of the UN agency.
Mr. Nibizi also called on UNHCR to ensure its employees should not continue engaging in acts of destabilization of Burundi.

Currently, Tanzania hosts more than 300,000 refugees and asylum seekers mostly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of Congo.