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Resettlement Scheme for Refugees in Nepal Passes 40,000 Mark

Resettlement Scheme for Refugees in Nepal Passes 40,000 Mark, UN Agency Reports

New York, Dec 13 2010 10:10AM

A United Nations initiative launched three years ago to resettle tens of thousands of refugees from camps in eastern Nepal passed the 40,000 mark today, the world body’s refugee agency reported.

“This is a tremendous achievement which would not have been possible without the strong support of the Government of Nepal and the countries of resettlement,” said Stephane Jaquemet, the Representative of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nepal.

Under the programme, refugees originating from Bhutan have been resettled in eight countries, most of them – 34,129 – to the United States. The other resettlement countries in rank are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.

Devi Maya Gurung was named as the 40,000th refugee to be resettled from Nepal shortly before stepping onto a plane at Tribhuvan International Airport in the capital, Kathmandu, to start a new life with her family in the US. She was among a group of 198 refugees originating from Bhutan to be resettled.

UNHCR is responsible for interviewing people and referring names to resettlement countries under the programme, while the International Organization for Migration (IOM) conducts health assessments, organizes cultural orientation courses and transports the refugees from the seven camps in eastern Nepal to their countries of resettlement.

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There were 108,000 refugees from Bhutan residing in the camps in eastern Nepal’s Jhapa and Morang districts when the programme began in November 2007, some of whom had been there for almost 20 years.

There are still 72,000 refugees remaining in the camps, about 55,000 of whom have expressed an interest in resettlement and are expected to depart within the next four years.

“We continue to receive a steady stream of expressions of interest for resettlement,” said Mr. Jaquemet. “And the positive aspect of this resettlement programme is that the acceptance rate by the countries of resettlement is 99 per cent, the highest in the world.”


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