Sunday, July 15, 2007

Moriarty stresses freedom for refugees to make decision on resettlement

In his meeting with the Bhutanese refugee leaders, the US ambassador James Moriarty, on Friday, said that fear must not affect refugees' choices on third country resettlement.

According to a press release by the US Embassy, Moriarty emphasised that it is essential for refugees have the freedom to make well-informed, independent decisions regarding their future without fear of threats or intimidation.

Moriarty discussed the details of the American program, beginning this year, that offers to resettle at least 60,000 Bhutanese refugees in America over the next four-five years.

He said that the offer was based on humanitarian concern for the well-being of the Bhutanese refugees not for political reasons.

At the meeting, which was held on the backdrop of growing criticism by refugee leaders that the US was pushing for resettlement without adequately pressuring the Bhutan government on repatriation, Moriarty said that the US continues to support the right of "eligible refugees" to repatriate to Bhutan and will continue to urge the Royal Government of Bhutan to fulfill its obligations in this regard.

"Third-country resettlement does not preclude the right of refugees to return to Bhutan should conditions there permit return at a later date," Moriarty told refugee leaders.

He also called on all refugees to reject violence and respect each other's right to choose their own future. "Violence will have a negative and lasting effect on the refugee community and could harm the refugees' future opportunities for repatriation to Bhutan," he said. sd Jun 15 07

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