Tanzanian Govt Denies Alleged Abuse Reports As World Bank Suspends Funding

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The Tanzanian government has denied allegations that villagers have been subjected to abuses, including forced evictions, as part of a project to expand a national park in the south of the country.

On Tuesday, the World Bank said it had suspended its funding of a $150m (£120m) tourism project in Ruaha National Park, saying it was deeply concerned about the allegations.

“The Tanzanian government does not violate human rights when implementing all its projects, including this one being funded by the World Bank,” government spokesperson Mobhare Matinyi told state broadcaster TBC.

“What happened is that the World Bank received some reports from civil society organisations that cast some doubts on the project, alleging some human rights violations in the area. The reports are not true.”

Known as Resilient Natural Resource Management for Tourism and Growth (Regrow), the project seeks to “improve the management of natural resources and tourism assets” in southern Tanzania, the World Bank previously said.

Mr Matinyi told a local newspaper that the World Bank has so far disbursed $125m (£101m) of its funding for Regrow, which launched in 2017.

Last year, the American think-tank Oakland Institute reported that villagers had been raped by rangers and were being evicted from their land because the park was being expanded.

Oakland Institute also pointed to reports, from a Tanzanian MP and a community organisation, that rangers had allegedly killed villagers.