Bhutan refugees rally for help to go back home

- ARJUN RAJBANSHI, DAMAK (JHAPA)

Dec 11, 2018-

The Bhutanese refugees, who have been languishing in Beldangi Camp, Jhapa for the past 26 years, have urged the human rights bodies to take initiative for their 

repatriation.

On the occasion of the International Human Rights Day on Monday, around 200 Bhutanese refugees took out a rally in Beldangi camp, appealing the national and international human rights watchdogs to help them return to their homeland. 

Krishna Bir Tamang, chairman of National Reconciliation Committee, said no person should be stateless in today’s day and age and called on rights groups to take their demand of repatriation seriously.     

Nepal has hosted the Bhutanese refugees since early 1990s; and since 2007, around 110,000 refugees have been resettled to various countries under the third country resettlement programme of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR). Around 6,500 Bhutanese refugees are still living in Nepal. Most of them want to return to Bhutan.

They said their struggle for repatriation was ongoing for the past  26 years. They also complained that the Nepal government, the UN agencies and the human rights groups had not done enough to address their concern.

Liladhar Acharya, 72, of Beldangi camp said he separated from his wife, seven children and grandchildren because he was the only one in the family who was committed to repatriation. 

Acharya’s family members moved to various countries as part of UNHCR’s resettlement scheme. Today, he lives in the camp all by himself. There are several elderly refugees like Acharya in the camps of Jhapa and Morang districts who bade goodbyes to their close family members and decided to stay back in Nepal and struggle for repatriation.    

The Bhutanese refugees have claimed that the UNHCR prioritised the third country resettlement programme, though it was not a solution to their problem DB Subba, general secretary of the Bhutan Swatantra Janamancha, said they were steadfast on their demand of repatriation and asked the Nepal government, the UNHCR and other human rights organisations to create a suitable environment for their return home. 

Meanwhile, the Nepal government faces the challenge of hosting the remaining Bhutanese refugees as the World Food Programme (WFP) has decided to suspend its food support to them from December end.

Published: 11-12-2018 07:34

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