Bhutan refugee leaders protest preparations to settle them in Nepal

Published On: October 28, 2018 06:40 AM NPT

DAMAK, Oct 28: Bhutanese refugee leaders have protested against preparations to settle the refugees in Nepal. They said the refugee issue would be resolved only after the refugees are sent back to Bhutan. 

“Even if Nepal is to allow the Bhutanese refugees to stay in this country, the government should not let them do so forever,” said Dr Bhampa Rai, chairman of the Bhutanese Refugees Repatriation Representative Committee (BRRC).

Rai accused the Nepal government and donor countries of taking the settlement decision arbitrarily. “Bhutanese refugees should be allowed to return not because of any need for localization but for the sake of their dignity and integrity,” he added. 

Political leaders say allowing the refugees to stay would invite further problems. They are of the opinion that the presence in Nepal of Bhutanese refugees of Nepali origin is already a social issue for the Nepalis. 
According to Rai of BRRC, the Nepal government has acted irresponsibly over the refugee issue. He suggested a tripartite dialogue between Nepal, India, and Bhutan to seek a permanent solution to the refugee problem.

“High-level talks between the governments of Nepal and Bhutan regarding the refugees have not always gone well,” said Rai. “Although the two countries sat for talks 15 different times, all this dialogue proved meaningless. There was also no report produced.”

Nepal’s failure  to handle the refugee issue properly has resulted in the prolonged plight of the
Bhutanese refugees. Since Bhutan is a member of the United Nations, Rai has urged stakeholders to press for the repatriation of the refugees through the UN.

Tikaram Rasaili, secretary of the Bhutanese refugee camp at Beldangi, said that the Nepal government should show more interest in resolving the refugee issue. “Now is the time to press for the repatriation of the refugees staying in the camps,” he said. 

Currently, there are around 7,000 Bhutanese refugees in various refugee camps across the country. There are two camps in Jhapa and Morang in the eastern part of Nepal. 

Over 106,000 Bhutanese refugees have already been resettled to various third-countries, including the USA and some European countries.

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