Monday, September 17, 2007

Interview with US Ambassador Nancy J Powell

In a recent interview with Kantipur Daily, Her Excellency Nancy J Powell, the new ambassador of the United States of America to Nepal spoke about reason for the resettlement of  60,000 Bhutanese refugees in US.
Here is part of the Excerpts:
Q: The US has proposed to resettle more than 60,000 Bhutanese refugees. Why is the US so keen on taking such a large chunk of refugees?

Powell: UNHCR, the US government and other countries that have been working at resettlement option recognize three durable solutions. We look at the resettlement of he refugee in the countries which have taken up the issue is there. That is a way to solve the issue. Repatriation to the country where they came back from or resettlement. And we are not advocating a single solution. We are recognizing that the international norm is all three solutions to take place.

The origin of the efforts --- the crude effort is to recognize the people, who have been in these camps for nearly 17 years. That is incredibly a long time. Many are working for future of their children. We currently have programs in the United States that allow us to take refugees from around the world. We wanted to make our program available to them. We have been working on small amount of those who are vulnerable in one way or others. But this would be a huge increase in the processing. We are working closely with UNHCR and other countries that have been donating to keep these camps going.

We are working on two or three things now before the processing starts. One is to ensure that there is security in the camps for the refugees to make an informed and free choice that they would not be intimidated by others in the refugee camps.

We also need security for those going to do the processing and those who would be helping us. We have to have a secure environment for the refugees, for those who are processing. In the next two/three weeks we will have ready infrastructure for the police. We will then begin a campaign that includes the government of Nepal, UNHCR, and the resettlement countries. We will be explaining what the offers are, what does it mean to do with resettlements in the United States, or in Canada, or in Australia or in other places. What particular benefits they would enjoy, what are the restrictions, what qualifications do they need.

Those who opt for resettlements will work with UNHCR to process their paperworks. We need to work through how to get people from current location to Kathmandu to resettlement locations, to care for them during that process. There is also logistic thing that has to be worked out. But we will be working with officials that are posted in other parts of the region. I think they come from Bangkok, they come from New Delhi.

Read Full Interview

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