Friday, July 4, 2008

International migration office bombed in Nepal

Source: Reuters

Three bombs exploded at an office of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in east Nepal that helps Bhutanese refugees to settle in third countries, police and government officials said on Tuesday.

It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the blasts, in the eastern town of Damak late on Monday. No one was hurt, police said, although there was minor damage to the buildings.

It was the third attack on the IOM in Nepal since some Western countries, including the United States, began taking in some of the 107,000 Bhutanese of ethnic Nepali origin that live in Nepal earlier this year.

They fled their homes in Bhutan or were expelled after demanding democracy in the 1990s.

The refugees, housed in United Nations camps in southeast Nepal, are split over the resettlement scheme. Some want to return to their homes, while many younger exiles want to seek out education and jobs in the West.

The IOM, along with U.N. refugee and food agencies, denounced the "senseless" attack, which they said was aimed at undermining the humanitarian efforts to aid the exiles.

"Continued intimidation and attacks on IOM may eventually have consequences on all program delivery for refugee operation -- not just the resettlement component," they said in a statement on Tuesday.

At least one driver working for the IOM and two refugees were injured in May when people opposed to the resettlement attacked their vehicles.

The resettlement offer from the West came after Nepal and Bhutan failed to negotiate a repatriation deal despite years of talks.

Hundreds of Bhutanese have already left for their new homes in the United States and other countries.

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