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Conditions in the refugee camps in Nepal

Started by BNS Forum, May 02, 2022, 10:59 AM

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BNS Forum

In 1991, at the request of government of Nepal, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) established refugee camps to meet the growing needs of the people pouring into Nepal from Bhutan. Seven camps were set up in the south eastern lowlands of Nepal. Two years ago, The Bhutan News Service (BNS) reported on a program to supply winter clothing to the camps. There are still close to 7k Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. What is the current conditions of refugee camps in Nepal?

RP Subba

As far as the 8 western countries which accepted the Bhutanese refugee, resettlement itself was the durable solution. This was the only option available to us after the other two options - repatriation to home country and local integration within the host country was ruled out. They have acted fully knowing that neither Bhutan nor Nepal were ready to own their responsibilities prescribed by international law.

As for the remaining refugees who are still in the camps in Nepal (the numbers could be disputed) their fate still hangs in a limbo. Bhutan has permanently shifted its responsibility to others. They will not take these people back. Nepal is too occupied with its own politics. They neither have the political will nor the capacity to absorb the Bhutanese refugees. There is no policy on how to deal with their situation.

Family Union provision open in Australia, if used efficiently will help some families whose relatives are in that country. Except USA, which could hopefully loosen its strings, borders even in other countries which have earlier accepted our refugees now seem to be sealed.

That said, eligible refugees in the camps should start looking for avenues to settle themselves elsewhere in India and Nepal. Many have acquired small plots in Assam, a newly opened settlement, in the upper Brahmaputra valley, now mostly inhabited by Bhutanese refugees. You can see a small Bhutanese village there. Few others may have something in Nepal.

Still, there are some who have nothing. They are the ones whose fate is really in a fluid.


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