The resettlement program launched by UNHCR four years ago for Bhutanese refugees from camps in Jhapa and Morang districts of eastern Nepal has till date resettled more than 50,000 refugees to the third countries.
Under the program launched in November of 2007 refugees were settled in eight countries, mostly to the United States. Around 42,000 refugees have come to the United States. Other countries in order of resettlement rank are Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.
Jai Prasad Sunuwar who recently left Nepal to set up home in South Dakota became the 50,000th Bhutanese refugee to be resettled from Nepal according to a statement released by the United Nations High Comissioner for Refugees (UNHCR).
The refugees are all ethnic Nepalese who had been living in Bhutan for generations. They fled the country in the early 1990s fearing persecution after Bhutan made Bhutanese National dress compulsory for everyone and banned Nepali language in the country.
There are 63,000 more left in the camps. Among them more than 47,000 have expressed interest in resettlement and are expected to leave within four years.
Refugee leaders have expressed fears that with resettlement of so many of the refugees there will be less pressure on Bhutan to repatriate them. However, the UNHCR has said it would still be working to seek a solution towards repatriation of interested refugees who do not wish to resettle in third countries.
[Source – AFP and The Himalayan Times]