The World Bank has halted new disbursements from a $150 million fund aimed at expanding a national park in southern Tanzania.

This decision follows allegations of killings and evictions by rangers at Ruaha National Park last year. According to the World Bank’s complaints mechanism, two anonymous complainants accused park rangers of various abuses against local villagers, including extrajudicial killings, enforced disappearances, and torture.

Expressing deep concern over these allegations, a World Bank spokesperson stated, “We have therefore decided to suspend further disbursement of funds with immediate effect.”

In response, Tanzanian government spokesman Mobhare Matinyi refuted the allegations, labeling them as false.

However, he acknowledged that the government is investigating to determine if any staff misconduct occurred. The suspended final tranche of the loan amounts to $25 million.

Criticism has been leveled at several Tanzanian government initiatives aimed at expanding tourism, particularly in the northern region, where thousands of Maasai have been evicted from their traditional lands.

A report by the Oakland Institute last year accused Ruaha park rangers of sexual violence, highlighting the costs borne by local communities in generating tourism revenues.

Despite these allegations, the Tanzanian government emphasizes the importance of expanding the tourism sector for economic development. It asserts that fair compensation has been provided to those evicted from their homes.

The World Bank project, approved by its board in 2017, is set to conclude by February 2025.

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