Naturalization of Burundian Refugees in Tanzania: The Debates on Local Integration and the Meaning of Citizenship Revisited
Source: Journal of Refugee Studies
by Amelia Kuch
This article discusses the implementation of the Tanzania Comprehensive Solution Strategy (TANCOSS), which aimed to provide durable solutions for Burundian refugees living in Tanzania since 1972. In 2008, over 200,000 refugees were given a choice between repatriation and naturalization, and almost 80 per cent opted for Tanzanian citizenship. By March 2015, 149,630 people had received Tanzanian citizenship certificates. Despite the recognized importance of this unique case of de jure integration, there is very little understanding of what impact it has had and continues to have on the people concerned and the areas they inhabit. Taking an ethnographic perspective, this author examines the consequences of naturalization and the ways in which former refugees conceptualize and utilize their newly acquired status. Building on the case of TANCOSS, the article confronts the dominant narratives of citizenship in Africa and it brings attention to the tangible and intangible value of citizenship documents for displaced populations.