15,000 more Bhutan refugees to be resettled in 2012: UNHCR
KATHMANDU, June 15: The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has announced to resettle additional 15,000 Bhutanese refugees in various third countries by the end of 2012.
Addressing a press conference organized before wrapping up his four-day visit to Nepal on Friday, visiting Deputy High Commissioner for the UNHCR T Alexander Aleinikoff made the announcement.
Deputy High Commissioner Aleinikoff said that they have already resettled some 65,000 Bhutanese refugees in various eight countries so far. "We plan to resettle additional 15,000 Bhutanese refugees this year," he said, adding that there are some 48,000 Bhutanese refugees still living in refugee camps in eastern Nepal.
While 54,731 refugees have been resettled in the US, the numbers of refugees resettled in Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark and Norway so far stand at 4,663; 3,476; 652, 617 and 507, respectively. Likewise, 324 have been resettled in the Netherlands and 224 in the UK.
During his stay in Nepal, Aleinikoff visited two Bhutanese refugee camps at Shanischare and Beldangi in eastern Nepal and obtained first hand information about the living conditions of the refugees living there. All the refugee camp populations were consolidated in the two camps. He said that UNHCR is planning to launch various community-based programs to facilitate both locals and refugees in the coming months in the refugee camp areas.
Aleinikoff assured that the UNHCR would continue to resettle the Bhutanese refugees to those countries including the US that have not fixed in ceiling for intake of refugees.
On the occasion, he informed that UNHCR has asked both Bhutan and Nepal governments to resume the stalled talks to repatriate those who want to go back to Bhutan. "More than 90 percent people have expressed their desires for third-country resettlement. The number of those expressing their desire for third country resettlement is increasing," he further said.
During his stay in Nepal, Aleinikoff held meeting with Deputy Prime Minister and Home Minister Bijaya Kumar Gachchhadar and also visited Tibetan Reception Center in Kathmandu. He had asked the government to continue providing safe passage to Tibetan refugees headed for India and other Western countries.