Friday, April 27, 2007

Refugee resettlement in US by January next year

The US government is all set to begin the resettlement of Bhutanese refugees in the US from early January next year.

According to reports from Jhapa, the two visiting US officials, Lawrence Bartlett, Deputy Director for Asia and the Near East, and Janice Belz, Deputy Director for Admissions of US State Department's Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration (PRM) met refugees in Beldangi and Goldhap camps there on Wednesday.

On the occasion, the officials said the US government would open two separate offices in Kathmandu and Damak to accelerate the process. Earlier reports said that the offices would come into operation by July 1.

The US officials also stated that the refugees would be given training on language and vocational skills before they are taken for resettlement.

Reports said the resettlement process would be completed by 2011.

The US officials arrived in Kathmandu on Sunday to accelerate the process of refugee resettlement and make necessary arrangement for that.

The US government has said it was willing to resettle at least 60,000 Bhutanese refugees as part of finding the permanent solution of the protracted crisis.

In the mean time, Foreign Minister Sahana Pradhan has said Denmark and Australia have also expressed willingness to take some refugees.

Talking to media persons on Wednesday at her office in Sital Niwas, Pradhan said Denmark has shown interest to resettle around 200 refugees while Australia has not mentioned the figure.

Pradhan said government would allow the resettlement process to go ahead and at the same time hold talks with Bhutan to repatriate those refugees who wish to go back.

During his meeting with Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala Thursday, Australian envoy to Nepal Graeme Lade said his government would begin resettling the Bhutanese refugees within the next three months.

It is learnt that the Australian envoy told Koirala that Australia was willing to take at least 5,000 refugees.

He also said Australia wished respectful repatriation of the refugees to their homeland, if possible.

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