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BHUTAN – 32,000 Bhutanese refugees resettled so far; resettlement programme has become its largest

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United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Saturday announced that the resettlement of refugees from Bhutan in Nepal has become its largest resettlement programme worldwide.

Issuing a statement on the eve of World Refugee Day (20 June), the UN refugee agency informed that 32,000 refugees from Bhutan have departed to the United States and other countries since the launch of the resettlement programme in November 2007.

According to UNHCR, the United States, with 27,926, has accepted the majority of the refugees. The other countries are Australia (1,530), Canada (1,445), New Zealand (447), Denmark (326), Norway (324), and the Netherlands (178), while some 100 are expected to depart to the United Kingdom soon.

“We are very proud to be the largest resettlement programme and I am verypleased to announce this on the occasion of the World Refugee Day,” said Stéphane Jaquemet, UNHCR Representative in Nepal.

He added, “The theme for this year’s World Refugee Day is ‘Home’ and to date more than 32,000 refugees from Bhutan have arrived in their new homes in resettlement countries.”

“This would not have been possible without the strong support and cooperation of the Government of Nepal, the resettlement countries, the International Organization for Migration (IOM), and our NGO partners,” said Jaquemet.

Many of the tens of thousands of refugees in seven camps in eastern Nepalhave been living in exile for almost 20 years. They arrived in Nepal after fleeing ethnic tensions in Bhutan in the early 1990s.

Mentioning that resettlement is currently the only available option for refugees in the camps, UNHCR said it will, together with the international community, continue efforts to achieve comprehensive and lasting solutions to the plight of refugees from Bhutan, including voluntary repatriation as and when return conditions permit.

Over 56,000 individuals in the current camp population have declared interest in resettlement, UNHCHR said. More than 8,000 refugees are expected to be flown to resettlement countries between now and the end of the year.

(Source: Nepalnews, 19 June 2010)