Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Process for third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees begins

Source: Nepalnews.com

The process for large scale third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees living in eastern Nepal has begun with the mass information campaign in all the camps, UNHCR today said.

The campaign is aimed at assisting the refugees to make an informed decision by providing them with accurate information, the UN refugee agency said.

This follows the decision of the Nepal government to allow those refugees who wish to opt for third country resettlement as an alternative solution to do so on the basis of an informed choice and acceptance by the resettlement country.

“UNHCR prefers to help refugees go back to their home countries when they can do so in safety and dignity, however, in this case, the only option currently available is that for resettlement in a third country for those refugees who wish to make this choice,” said Abraham ABRAHAM, UNHCR Representative in Nepal. He emphasised, “Resettlement to a third country does not in any way preclude the right of refugees to return to Bhutan.”

The UNHCR representative also urged the refugee leaders to respect the right of every individual to make informed choices and take decisions regarding his or her own future.

According to UNHCR, resettlement is the relocation of a refugees and their family from Nepal to a third country. This is done with the support and agreement of the resettlement countries as part of a burden sharing mechanism towards achieving a humanitarian solution so that refugees do not have to continue suffering in the camps.

On arrival in the resettlement country they will have legal permanent residence including the possibility for being citizens of that country in due course, if they so desire.

“The UN refugee agency together with the international community will continue its efforts to ensure that as many doors as possible are opened in terms of achieving lasting solutions to the plight of the refugees, including voluntary repatriation as and when return conditions permit,” the UNHCR release stated.

The United States has announced that it would resettle 60,000 refugees, and even more if required, while other members of the Core Group consisting of Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway have also expressed their desire to take in refugees. Canada has already announced its plan to resettle 5,000 refugees.

“We are profoundly grateful to the Government of USA and to all the other resettlement recipient countries as well as to the Government of Nepal for supporting third country resettlement as a humanitarian solution," said Abraham.

Resettlement to the USA is organised by the US government, through its Overseas Processing Entity (OPE), the International Organization for Migration (IOM). The IOM will process resettlement of refugees on the basis of referrals made by UNHCR, and only where expressions of interest for resettlement have been made known to UNHCR.

During her recent visit to Nepal, US Assistant Secretary of Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Ellen Sauerbrey, had said that the first batch of Bhutanese refugees would land in the US by January 2008.

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