Thursday, January 17, 2008

33,000 refugees to be resettled by 2009


The Kathmandu-based representatives of the Core Group of Nations working closely with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees to support the refugees from Bhutan has stated that in 2008 more than 13,000 refugees will be resettled from Nepal.

"By the end of 2009, we hope that an additional 20,000 or more refugees who have chosen resettlement will be starting new lives in the United States, Australia, Canada, and elsewhere," said a statement issued on Wednesday by US Ambassador to Nepal Nancy J Powell as Chair of the Core Group of Nations -- Australia, Canada, Denmark, Norway, and the US.

The Core Group has emphasized that the offer of resettlement goes hand in hand with continuing efforts to urge the government of Bhutan to accept the return of the refugees. "Repatriation and local integration are recognized by all of us as being equally desirable durable solutions," said Powell in the statement.

The Core Group nations and other nations have extended the offer of resettlement as a durable humanitarian solution for the refugees only after many years of attempts by the governments of Nepal and Bhutan to negotiate a repatriation solution, Powell said.

"I want to express our pleasure at the official opening on January 9 of the refugee resettlement processing center in Damak for the Bhutanese refugees," Powell said. The center is operated by the International Organization for Migration.

The group members have called upon the government of Nepal to approve expedited exit permits for all refugees who are eligible for resettlement and to establish for future use a standardized process for the expeditious departure of refugees who wish to be resettled.

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