Stakeholders: Ratify UN convention on refugees

- Post Report, Kathmandu

Mar 26, 2016-

Various stakeholders and human rights defenders have called on the government to ratify the UN Refugee Convention and enact domestic law for the better protection of refugees settled in Nepal.

During a programme organised by INHURED International, Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network and Forum for Protection of People’s Right, they also called on for a domestic legal framework for the refugees, saying that the generous hospitality offered to the refugees by Nepal does not bode well for the refugees themselves.

At present, Nepal is hosting Tibetan, Bhutanese and urban refugees, and the government says it is providing all kinds of assistance to them on humanitarian grounds. Nepal is not a party to refugee UN Convention of Refugee.

Highlighting the status and problem faced by the refugees in Nepal, Cecile Fradot, senior protection officer at the UNHCR, Nepal, said that Nepal should ratify the UN Convention of Refugee, protocol relating to the status of refugee and should implement recommendations made by the UN Human Rights Committee on Nepal on different periods.

It is estimated that at present Nepal is home to 40,000 Tibetan, Bhutanese and urban refugees. 

Over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees have already left for third country settlement while some 15,000 are still in the camps in Jhapa. Officials informed that the last batch of Bhutanese refugees is all set to leave for third country resettlement. 

The government and UN refugee agency are not sure about the fate of the rest of the refugees--whether they would be repatriated to Bhutan or assimilated in Nepal. 

Over 500 urban refugees from Pakistan, Iraq, Somalia, Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Afghanistan and other countries are also living in Nepal. 

Prakash Wosti, a member of the National Human Rights Commission, also stressed on the need to ratifying the UN Convention of Refugee, saying that the Supreme Court ruling too calls for the same. 

The NHRC has written to the government to provide refugee cards to Tibetan refugees who are facing difficulties, as they cannot work, travel or study for the lack of documents, he said.

It is estimated that over 9,000 Tibetan refugees have not obtained any kind of legal documentation in Nepal.    Sri Krishna Subedi, a member of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission, said that the state approach towards refugee should change. 

“We are a democracy; Nepal is an open country and we are generous about hosting guests, so lot of foreign nationals come here and seek asylum,” said Gopal Siwakoti, Chair of APRRN and INHURED International. “Now time has come for Nepal to go beyond hospitality and introduce a legal framework to protect the refugees living in Nepal,” he said. 

Published: 26-03-2016 09:03

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