Refugees and underdevelopment in Africa : the case of Barundi refugees in Tanzania
Using an empirical study of the Barundi refugee settlements of Ulyankulu, Mishamo, and particularly Katumba in Western Tanzania, this study argues that the causes and consequences of the African refugee problem must be examined outside the normative humanitarian framework. It postulates that the refugee problem can be understood only in the historical context of the integration of African communities into the capitalist system and their resultant underdevelopment. Furthermore, that the neo-colonial state, its class character, and ethnic divisions, aggravated by economic crisis, fosters a climate of repression - prompting forced migration. The unequal relationship between western capital and Tanzania is exemplified in the microcosm of the refugee phenomenon, where international/ regional policy, legislation, security considerations, and aid not only demobilize a potential political force, but usurp the authority of the national and local state. Donor/state/refugee relationships are further discussed in the context of the settlements. The schemes, located in remote areas and with tight restrictions on mobility, while providing a humanitarian solution, act as mechanisms for the control of the Barundi refugees. Utilization of their labour is intentionally part of Tanzania's development strategy. Settlement and integration are discussed in relation to the contribution of Barundi people to the development of commodity production in Tanzania both historically and with regard to their current potential. While dismissing the notion of an undifferentiated mass of refugees, this study reveals how donor activities and the objective material conditions of the rural areas contribute to commodity production and mercantilist activities with increasing inequalities. It concludes that large groups of refugees in rural areas will inevitably heighten local tensions, and that only through greater x political liberalization' - removal of restrictions on mobility and political representation, will Barundi refugees gain control of their lives, and Tanzania's long-standing goal of the liberation of African peoples be realized.