Thursday, August 14, 2008

Over 3,000 Bhutanese resettled: IOM

Source: The Kathmandu Post


Over 3,000 Bhutanese refugees, who were languishing in sub-human conditions in UNHCR-administered camps in eastern Nepal, have been resettled in the US, Denmark, Australia and other countries under the third country resettlement program.

An official at the International Office for Migration (IOM), which is playing a key role in the resettlement process, said that the process is continuing smoothly and as planned.

"So far, altogether 3,247 Bhutanese refugees have been resettled in various countries," he said. Among them, 3,034 were taken to the US, 102 went to New Zealand and 19 headed for Norway. Likewise, 13 and 62 others were taken to Denmark and Australia respectively, while 17 refugees were resettled in the Netherlands.

IOM plans to resettle over 8,500 refugees under the third country resettlement program, most of whom will go to the US.

"Although the resettlement process was objected to by a certain group of refugees in the beginning, the process is underway without any obstruction now," said Govinda Koirala, a staffer at IOM. "If everything goes as planned, all the refugees of one of the camps will be resettled in new countries by the end of December this year."

Many other refugees, who are waiting for their turn after already sending over some of their kin, said that they were now upbeat as those relatives were sending back positive messages from abroad.

"I was worried as my younger brother, who was not very experienced with the outside world, was chosen for the resettlement," said refugee Hari Dhakal. "But now he tells me over the telephone that he already has a mobile phone and computer facilities, and we are hopeful of a good life out there."

An IOM official also claimed that the resettlement process is becoming easier due to the positive messages from those already resettled abroad.

More than 108,000 Bhutanese refugees have been living in seven camps in Jhapa and Morang districts since 1992 after the Druk regime launched its ethnic cleansing.

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