Refugee groups from the Great Lakes Region were effectively from Tuesday Jan 24 banned from entering Tanzania, with the government saying there is no security threats in the neighbouring countries to warrant their flees.

We, in Tanzania, will no longer receive refugee groups from the Great Lakes region, Home Affairs Minister Mwigulu Nchemba announced at an exercise to destroy illegal firearms here.

Nchemba said the government will only receive individual immigrants but subject them to tight scrutiny by relevant authorities before granting refugee status.

The approved refugees, he said, will be hosted at the currently operational camp for the government has no plan to open new refugee accommodation. The minister said refugees have in a way exacerbated the problem of illegal firearms in the country and increased incidents of armed robbery, disrupting the smooth livelihood of the citizens.

He further said the government has suspended issuance of citizenship to refugee groups as it did for Burundian refugees and instead the status will be granted to individual applicants.

Nchemba said the previous system has greatly affected the country's defence and security, particularly in the regions that host the immigrants due to rising crimes like murders and armed robberies.

In my capacity as Home Affairs Minister, I am suspending the process of granting citizenship to refugee groups because we have witnessed its adverse impact, especially in Tabora where most parts of the region face security threats, charged the minister.

He further noted that the government through its organs has established that there is no any security unrest in the neighbouring countries but some people were fleeing their homes due to economic hardships.

Earlier, Police Commissioner for Operations and Training Nsato Marijani, said that a total of 5,608 illegal firearms were scheduled for destruction.

Commissioner Nsato said the illegal firearms included 21 pistols, 606 shotguns, 166 SMGs, 300 Riffles, 21 fake pistols, three FN Riffles, a G3, SAR 3 and 4,487 traditional weapons.

He also named the regions and the number of seized illegal weapons in brackets as Kagera (100), Rukwa (189), Katavi (81), Simiyu (16), Mwanza (88), Geita (82), Mara (80) and Kigoma, which had 424 firearms.

Kigoma Regional Commissioner (RC) Emmanuel Maganga, said his region has been receiving a huge number of refugees from the Great Lakes countries, posing security threats in the region.

He noted that the region is working out effective strategies to control illegal firearms and crimes.