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MCC assists displaced village in Tanzania

Cathryn Clinton
February 18, 2008

AKRON, Pa.— A small community in Tanzania, forced to relocate to an old courtroom nearby when an international mining company moved in, is receiving help from Mennonite Central Committee.

MCC has joined with the Christian Council of Tanzania (CCT) to provide food, clothing and blankets after the mining company, which owns the nearby Geita gold mine, informed the people in the community that they were going to explore for gold on their land.

The villagers filed an appeal in the High Court of Tanzania to receive just compensation, but before any action was taken the local authority and Tanzanian police force unexpectedly moved the people from their village.

The 258 men, women and children were moved to a courtroom in Aug. 2007 without adequate food, water, or sanitation and have been living there ever since.

Pastor John Magafu, who works for the CCT, read about the community’s predicament in the newspaper on Sept. 8, 2007 and went to investigate. He said the village was demolished, and the villagers had lost their farm produce.

Rev. Dr. Leonard A. Mtaita, General Secretary of CCT, said that the situation needed quick action after their team investigated in December. The $1,000 given to the community by the mining company to purchase food had been used up.

In addition to the food, clothing and blankets, CCT also plans to advocate for the villagers by taking the issue to the Tanzanian government.

Deacon Jumanne Magiri, General Secretary of the Mennonite Church in Tanzania, says that the issue of mining contracts and the foreign plundering of Tanzania's resources are much bigger than the situation in Geita.