Monday, August 13, 2007

UNHCR condemns violence in refugee camp

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has expressed its “deep concern” over the violence that ensued in Beldangi refugee camp in Jhapa district on Sunday which resulted in five refugees being injured and requested the refugees to express their “grievances in a peaceful manner.”

Issuing a press statement Monday, the UN refugee agency strongly urged the refugees to “refrain from violence and use of force”.

“UNHCR also urges refugees to demonstrate their civil responsibility and establish an environment of law and order and mutual respect for each other's views and opinions in a democratic manner. The refugee agency asks refugees to uphold the right of every individual to make informed choices and take decisions regarding his or her own future,” the statement said.

Bhutanese refugee youths had on Sunday thrashed Monarath Khanal, camp secretary of Beldangi II extension camp, accusing him of supporting a refugee from Beldangi II camp to get permission from the local authority to attend a seminar in Thailand later this month. In the scuffle, five more refugees were injured, mostly Camp Management Committee members and some huts were destroyed as police had to be called in to calm the situation and provide security in the camp.

UNHCR said in the statement that it is saddened by this incident and also expressed its sympathy for those injured and whose huts had been destroyed.

The UN refugee agency further said that it is pleased that the government has initiated measures to provide better security in the camps, “which is vital to curb the increasing incidents of violence and threats in the camps that lead to innocent refugees being hurt or even losing lives.”

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