Last Updated: Monday, 19 February 2018, 14:34 GMT

U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Nepal

Publisher United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants
Publication Date 20 June 2005
Cite as United States Committee for Refugees and Immigrants, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants World Refugee Survey 2005 - Nepal , 20 June 2005, available at: [accessed 20 February 2018]
DisclaimerThis is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.

Refoulement/Asylum  There were unconfirmed reports that Nepal refouled Tibetan asylum seekers from China; however, the Nepalese Government denied this. Chinese authorities reportedly tortured the Tibetan asylum seekers Nepal had returned in 2003, and extorted bribes from their families for their release.

While Nepal generally cooperated with the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the country had no refugee law. Since 1991, Nepal hosted more than 100,000 refugees from Bhutan in UNHCR-administered camps in the southeast. Some 15,000 Bhutanese lived outside the camps, either in Nepal or in India. Nepal also hosted about 20,000 Tibetan refugees with resident status and allowed over 2,000 to transit through Nepal to India. The Government allowed UNHCR to visit Nepal's border with China and to assist other asylum seekers, including some from Iraq and Sudan. Additionally, 234 Pakistani asylum seekers sought refuge in Nepal and 191 had pending cases with UNHCR.

Detention  There was increased security along the Nepal-China border and authorities reportedly intercepted and detained Tibetan asylum seekers from China, although the Government denied it. Tibetans could also be detained for not possessing travel or residence papers. In April, police beat and robbed a group of 55 Tibetan refugees traveling in Lukla and sexually molested two girls among them. At year's end, however, there were reportedly no Tibetan asylum seekers in jail.

Right to Earn a Livelihood  Nepal did not allow refugees to work legally, not even Tibetans with refugee identification cards, nor could refugees legally operate businesses or hold title to cars, homes, or property. Many refugees, including Bhutanese outside of the camps, did work illegally, however, and the Government informally tolerated Tibetan carpet making and small cottage industries within the camps for Bhutanese refugees, but local authorities sometimes attempted to curtail them. Members of the local population expressed resentment over aid from donor agencies to refugees that was not available to them and, in July, refugees fought with locals over firewood in the woods near the camps.

Freedom of Movement and Residence  Tibetan refugees were free to travel outside of camps within Nepal, but could be arrested if they failed to carry travel documents or residence cards. Travel was dangerous, however, and Maoists robbed Tibetan refugees traveling from border areas to Kathmandu.

Nepal granted international travel documents to nearly 240 Tibetan refugees. Each document, however, required a recommendation from the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) and anyone traveling abroad had to relinquish their identity cards. A 2003 Government commission had found many irregularities in the recommendations for travel documents.

In January 2005, the Government closed both the Tibetan Refugee Welfare Office (TRWO) and the Tibetan Refugee Reception Centre (TRRC), which registered new refugee arrivals from China and assisted them with their safe passage to India, because they had not legally registered – something the Government would not permit them to do.

The Government allowed Bhutanese refugees outside the camps with advance permission, but required a travel permit to stay out overnight or to travel outside the country. The Government issued such permits to 38 refugees.

Public Relief and Education  According to the Government, refugee children had access to education on par with nationals through the secondary level. There were Tibetan schools within refugee camps and UNHCR provided schools for Bhutanese refugee children in their camps. UNHCR and its partners also provided healthcare in the camps. In 2003, Human Rights Watch reported that the Government discriminated against women by distributing rations through male heads of households. The Government stated, "There is no disparity between nationals and refugees about health care." The Government also allowed UNHCR to provide services to a small number of urban refugees.

Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs)  There were some 100,000 to 200,000 IDPs in Nepal as a result of continued violence between the Government and Maoist forces, but only 25,000 to 30,000 registered with MOHA to receive assistance. According to the Global IDP Project, the violence affected all 75 districts in Nepal. No IDPs, however, lived in camps. The Government and international agencies provided little or no humanitarian aid to IDPs, preferring to give development aid to hosting communities instead. According to the Global IDP Project, "a UN IDP Unit mission conducted in Nepal at the beginning of June recommended that no IDP-targeted assistance take place so as to avoid undermining existing coping mechanisms," referring to the IDP's own resources, families, and friends.

The Government blockaded food and tortured and killed or extorted money from civilians considered Maoist sympathizers – including some the guerrillas had forcibly recruited for labor, fighting, or indoctrination. The Maoists targeted teachers, government workers, children, and students for recruitment. About 8,000 children among the displaced were particularly vulnerable to violence, disease, and Maoist abduction, recruitment, and forced labor. Maoists also used children as human shields.

Copyright 2005, U.S. Committee for Refugees and Immigrants

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