The Government of Tanzania through the Ministry of Home Affairs, Immigration Department, in close collaboration with IOM, has launched a biometric registration system for irregular migrants in the country’s Tanga region.
The electronic registration (e-registration) of irregular and settled migrants in Tanzania follows a successful pilot project in Kigoma region in which more than 22,800 migrants were registered and provided with a personalized laminated photo ID card, which allows them to remain in Tanzania for up to two years, while their immigration status is determined by the Tanzanian authorities.
Historically, Tanga is a region which has hosted foreign (seasonal) workers for decades, especially in the sisal plantations. It is estimated that more than 50,000 migrants originating from Kenya, Mozambique, Somalia and other neighbouring countries have since settled in the villages of Tanga. The region is also part of the long Indian Ocean coastline used by many migrants from the East and Horn of Africa as a transit site on their way to South Africa, Europe or the Middle East.
The project, which will see 52 biometric registration kits distributed to regional and district immigration offices across the country, is being implemented in accordance with the government’s Comprehensive Migration Strategy for Tanzania (COMMIST), which seeks to identify, register, verify and determine the migration status of settled migrants in the country.
This programme is part of a European Union (EU)-funded IOM project: Addressing the Needs of Stranded and Vulnerable Migrants.
Speaking at the launch, Tanga Regional Commissioner Martin Shigela told migrants: “Data collected through this e-registration will inform the government of who you are and what status you are entitled to. No need to hide, we’re not registering to repatriate you, I plead with you that you come forward to register, since registration is free of charge.”
IOM Tanzania Chief of Mission, Dr. Qasim Sufi said: “We’re grateful to the European Union for this financial support. Collection of quality data is a pre-requisite for strengthening government capacity to better manage irregular migration in Tanzania.”
He added, “This is of mutual interest to both the migrants and the government, as the outcome of the exercise will provide the government with a clear picture on who is in the country and for what reason. The ultimate goal is to provide timely and necessary administrative services, based on their status, as well as to support them in improving their means of livelihood while in the country.”
The project is a three-country project involving Tanzania, Yemen and Morocco. The overall objective is to contribute to developing human rights-based migration management approaches in addressing the needs of stranded and vulnerable migrants in targeted sending, transit and receiving countries.