Monday, February 4, 2008

First batch of Bhutan refugees to leave for US in March

Source: The Himalayan Times

The first batch of the Bhutanese refugees is scheduled to leave for the United States in March as part of the resettlement programme, and numbers are expected to increase by July.
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) headquarters in Geneva has welcomed the government’s decision to issue exit permits to Bhutanese refugees who voluntarily opt for resettlement.

The UNHCR, in a statement issued today, welcomed the government’s decision of granting exit permits to Bhutanese refugees for third-country resettlement as a breakthrough in mid-January.

It said the government’s decision has paved the way for the large-scale movement of refugees who decide voluntarily to be resettled after spending up to 17 years in Nepal’s camps.
The exit permits allow refugees to leave the Jhapa and Morang camps for third countries once their cases are accepted.
The UNHCR said the group resettlement process, which started late last year, has been gaining momentum.

“Thousands of refugees have expressed interest, and the UNHCR has submitted the details of nearly 10,000 interested refugees for consideration by the countries willing to resettle them,” it added.

While the United States has offered to consider resettlement for at least 60,000 refugees from Bhutan, Canada has indicated it will accept up to 5,000.
Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway have also expressed willingness to accept the refugees from Bhutan for resettlement.

Blast in Bhutan:
THIMPHU: A bomb went off in Samste district of Bhutan on Monday while two bombs were defused ahead of National Assembly polls slated for March 24. A Royal Bhutan Police spokesman said the blast occurred behind a government office at Ghmauney village. “There were no casualties. Officials recovered leaflets of the Communist Party of Bhutan based in Nepal from the scene threatening to stop the National Assembly polls,” police said. — HNS

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