Sunday, August 26, 2007

UNHCR Concerned About Security Scene in Refugee Camps

Source: The Himalayan Times
Ishwar Khanal

Kathmandu, August 26

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the US have expressed concern over the security situation in the Bhutanese refugee camps, which has affected their preparations for resettlement process of the refugees.
UNHCR has been administering the refugee camps and the US is a member of the core group to announce absorbing 60,000 Bhutanese refugees.
The UN agency is ready to start identifying and referring cases to third countries for resettlement, but the process has not started because the UNHCR has said it wants continued political, logistic support and security measures from the Nepal government to initiate it.
The UNHCR feels the need for the government to announce its policy on third country resettlement of the Bhutanese refugees in the camps.
UNHCR Representative in Nepal, in an email response to queries forwarded by this daily, Abraham Abraham said that they are "deeply concerned" over increasing incidents of violence, threats and intimidation in the refugee camps.
Similar views came from a US official working on Bhutanese refugee affairs. "Security is the main problem to begin resettlement process," the official told this daily insisting anonymity.
The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) as the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) is yet to establish its office in Damak of Jhapa. It will start operating as soon the agreement is signed with Nepal soon.
Prior to beginning the process, the UNHCR would organise a mass information campaign to update all stakeholders about the process and inform the refugees about resettlement and all three durable solutions to enable them to make an informed choice about dealing with their future, Abraham said.
He also stated that the UN agency is confident that Nepal government has prioritised the refugee issue and is working to find out a permanent solution of the protracted problem.
The UN refugee agency, however, feels that the government has started stepping up security to prevent the outbreak of more incidents.
"We fully recognise and respect the many difficult political and security issues the government has to deal with, but we are confident that the refugee issue is high on the agenda of the government, and this is vital in finding permanent solutions for the refugees," he concluded.

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