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January 18, 2019

UNHCR – Distribution of clothing to refugee, local communities in Tanzania

Note: The following statement is in relation to media queries we have received concerning
clothing donations.

Between October and December 2018, UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, distributed some
1.5 million pieces of clothing received from a private donor to refugees in Nduta and Mtendeli
camps and to members of the host community living nearby, in the Kibondo and Kakonko

During the first mass distribution, which took place in presence of local authorities, UNHCR
and its partners identified a number of donated clothing items that were deemed
inappropriate, including some 1,900 pieces of camouflage styled clothing for men and boys.
This type of clothing not being permitted for civilian use under Tanzanian law, UNHCR
immediately removed all the unsuitable pieces and stored them securely.

On 31 December 2018, these unsuitable clothes were handed over to local authorities upon
their request. In January the Government launched an investigation, following media reports
indicating that these items were seized in Nduta and Mtendeli camps prior to
their distribution to refugees. While waiting for the findings of the investigation, UNHCR
stands ready to support the Government in its efforts to clarify the way these clothing items
have been handled.

In light of this, and to prevent repetition of such incidences, UNHCR will in future further
reinforce our pre-screening procedures before any clothing is distributed.

UNHCR relies on voluntary funding and donations to support the world’s refugees and we are
immensely grateful for every donation we receive. We nonetheless make every effort to
ensure that items distributed to refugees fully respect cultural, legal and religious norms of
their host countries.

UNHCR continues to work closely with the Tanzanian Government and other partner
organizations in providing international protection and humanitarian assistance to refugees
and asylum-seekers in the country. Currently, Tanzania generously hosts more than 300,000
refugees and asylum-seekers mostly from Burundi and the Democratic Republic of the


For more information on this topic, please contact:

Goodness Mrema, Public Information Associate,, +255 784 730 424