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Over 5,000 Bhutanese Refugees Resettle From Nepal

More Than 5,000 Bhutanese Refugees Resettled From Nepal With UN Help

New York, Sep 23 2008 12:10PM

More than 5,000 refugees from Bhutan have left their camps in Nepal to resettle in third countries this year, in one of the United Nations refugee agency’s largest and most promising resettlement programmes.

The vast majority of the refugees have left for the United States, followed by Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Norway, Canada and Denmark, under the programme which began only this year, according to the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).

Over 50,000 refugees have expressed interest in resettlement – just under half of the total 107,000 refugees from Bhutan who live in seven camps in eastern Nepal. “Some of them have been in exile for as long as 17 years,” UNHCR spokesperson William Spindler told a news conference in Geneva.

Regular meetings have been held with the refugees to discuss resettlement and other durable solutions, as well as provide information for women at risk or people with disabilities.

“Refugees are being offered English classes as well as additional vocational and skill-based training to prepare for a life in a new country,” Mr. Spindler said.

While another 2,000 to 3,000 refugees are expected to leave Nepal for third countries by the end of this year, UNHCR “continues to advocate for the option of voluntary return to Bhutan for those refugees who wish to do so, and hopes that talks on repatriation can restart soon,” he added.

UNHCR attributes the success of the programme to close cooperation with the Nepali Government, the International Organization for Migration (IOM) and the resettlement countries.

ENDS

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