Saturday, February 23, 2008

Third country refugee settlement not a durable solution: Sahana Pradhan


Foreign Minister Sahana Pradhan has said that third country resettlement is not a durable solution to the Bhutanese refugee issue, and that there is a need to involve India in resolving this protracted crisis.

Speaking at a function organised jointly by Bhutan News Service and Nepal FM in Kathmandu on Saturday to mark the first anniversary of the radio programme 'Saranarthi Sarokar', Pradhan said it was out of compulsion that the Nepal government accepted the proposal of western countries to resettle over 70,000 Bhutanese refugees.

She further said the receiving countries have assured of repatriating those refugees who cannot be resettled or do not wish to be resettled.

UNHCR country representative in Nepal Daisy Dale said over 23,000 applications have been registered at her office by Bhutanese refugees expressing their willingness to be resettled in third countries. She added that the international community would continue to advocate for repatriation of the refugees to their homeland even after the third country resettlement.

Member of the Foreign Affairs Committee of the Interim Parliament Romi Gauchan Thakali said that Bhutanese refugee crisis is not an issue limited only between Bhutan and Nepal. “Humanitarian problem like this cannot be called a bilateral issue,” he added.

Chairman of Informal Sector Service Centre (INSEC) Subodh Pyakurel said the issue has to be taken to the international court of justice and should be raised seriously before the UN human rights council meets this April to review the human rights situation around the world.

Vice President of Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) Dr DNS Dhakal said the resettling countries must guarantee the right to citizenship and restitution of looted properties whenever situation becomes favourable for repatriation of the Bhutanese refugees to their homeland.

Other speakers also stressed that repatriation is the best and lasting solution of the Bhutanese refugee issue than third country resettlement.

According to Vidhyapati Mishra, Manager of Bhutan News Service, 'Saranarthi Sarokar' radio programme is being aired from Nepal FM every Saturday and CJMC community radio on every Sunday. The programme produced by Bhutan News Service is also aired from Pathivara FM in Jhapa four times a week. ia Feb 23 08

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