Nepal: Government to merge Bhutanese refugee camps
|Publisher||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN)|
|Publication Date||28 February 2011|
|Cite as||Integrated Regional Information Networks (IRIN), Nepal: Government to merge Bhutanese refugee camps, 28 February 2011, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/4d6c93130.html [accessed 14 July 2014]|
KATHMANDU, 28 February 2011 (IRIN) - The Nepalese government hopes to turn the seven Bhutanese refugee camps in eastern Nepal into two over the next two years.
"Given the large number of people that have been resettled, this is a logical move," Jay Mukunda Khanal, head of Nepal's National Unit for the Coordination of Refugee Affairs, told IRIN, adding: "We hope to complete this effort by the end of 2012."
Known as 'Lhotsampas' in Bhutan, the refugees are Bhutanese citizens of Nepalese origin who have been living in the camps since the early 1990s when some 108,000 fled to Nepal after being evicted from their homes by the Bhutanese government, which had passed a law stripping them of their citizenship.
According to the UN Refugee Agency (UNHCR), more than 43,500 Bhutanese refugees have been resettled in third countries since 2007.
As of 28 February, the USA had accepted the largest number (just over 37,000), followed by Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the UK.
Currently there are 69,203 refugees in seven camps: Beldangi I, Beldangi II, Beldangi II extension, Khudunarabari, Timai and Goldhap (all in Jhapa District); and Sanischare (Morang District).
Of the camps' current population, about 75 percent have expressed an interest in third-country resettlement.
UNHCR is currently in negotiations with the government on the planning process in an effort to ensure that the same level of services and assistance are maintained for the refugees when the camps are reduced to two.
"We are in discussions with the government," said Stephane Jaquemet, UNHCR country representative in Kathmandu, noting however that the implementation process is not yet clear.
"Consolidation is the only possibility to maintain the same level of services. Logistically, it's becoming too difficult and too expensive to maintain the same level of services to half empty camps," Jaquemet explained.
Theme (s): Refugees/IDPs,
[This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations]