100,000th refugee from Bhutan to resettle in USOver 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living and sheltered in eastern Nepal since 1990 have resettled in third countries since 2007.
Over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living and sheltered in eastern Nepal since 1990 have resettled in third countries since 2007.
A core group of eight countries came together to create this opportunity for Bhutanese refugees to begin new lives. Under the programme, 84,819 refugees were resettled in the United States of America, 6,500 in Canada, 5,554 in Australia, 1,002 in New Zealand, 874 in Denmark, 566 in Norway, 358 in the United Kingdom, and 327 in the Netherlands.
“This is one of the largest and most successful programmes of its kind. The resettlement of nearly nine out of 10 Bhutanese refugees is an extraordinary achievement,” said UNHCR representative Craig Sanders. “Eight years ago, few would have envisioned we would reach this milestone. We give credit and thanks to the resettlement countries, the government and people of Nepal, the refugee community, and our NGO and UN
partners with whom we
have worked for over two decades.”
A special function was organised in Kathmandu on Thursday to mark the event of departure of the 100,000th refugee to the US.
Dipesh Thapa, who turned four years old on Thursday will be the 100,000th Bhutanese refugee to resettle in the US. Eight members of the Thapa family will soon depart Nepal to start a new life in Ohio.
Dipesh will be accompanied by his grand parents and other family members.
They will join over 84,800 other Bhutanese refugees who have started new lives in the USA.
“I am leaving the refugee camp forever after spending more than two decades in Nepal. I am happy that our family will be together in our new country, and that my children will have a better future,” said Devi Maya, Dipesh’s grand mother.
Her son Bhupendra and daughter-in-law Nara Maya have both been deaf and mute since childhood. “Life in the refugee camp has always been difficult and physical disabilities added more pain,” said 25-year-old Bhupendra. “I am happy that I am finally going on resettlement. I will be able to
learn new things, have more opportunities and lead a happy life.”
Eight years ago, some 108,000 refugees from Bhutan were living in seven camps in Jhapa and Morang districts in eastern Nepal. Today, only two camps remain and the refugee population now stands at less than 18,000.
The Chairperson of the Core Group of eight resettlement countries, Australian Ambassador to Nepal Glenn White said: “Australia is proud to have played a part in this highly successful resettlement programme. The departure of the 100,000th Bhutanese refugee is a demonstration of the strong humanitarian cooperation between the eight resettlement countries, Nepal, UNHCR and IOM. I look forward to continued cooperation among the Core Group, Nepal, and our partners in seeking resolution for the Bhutanese refugees who yet remain.”
As resettlement reaches its end, it is estimated that around 10,000-12,000 refugees will remain in the camps in Nepal.
Coping with difficulties after migration
Not every Bhutanese refugee fared well in the country of resettlement after they left Nepal. According to a report published in 2013 April, the US Federal Office of Refugee Resettlement began to notice a disturbing pattern among the Bhutanese refugees. As of February 2012, the office recorded the death of 16 refugees due to suicide. The report underlines causes behind the suicide are post-migration difficulties, among others, communication trouble with their host communities, worries about family back home and unemployment.
The cases of suicide among the refugees were also documented by the International Organization for Migration in Nepal. The IOM had documented 67 suicides and 64 attempts between 2004 and 2010.
US envoy Teplitz, PM Oli hail milestone
US Ambass-ador to Nepal Alaina B Teplitz, along with Prime Minister Khadga Prasad Sharma Oli and representatives from the United Nations High Commissi-oner for Refugees (UNHCR) and seven other countries, congratulated the 100,000th Bhutanese refugee departing from Nepal for resettlement abroad.
In a special ceremony with chief guest Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli on Thursday, Ambassador Teplitz thanked the government and people of Nepal for generously welcoming Bhutanese refugees for over 20 years, and facilitating their travel to the United States and other countries.
“For our part, the United States has welcomed over 84,500 Bhutanese refugees. We are a nation of immigrants, and have the largest refugee resettlement program in the world,” said Teplitz in a US Embassy statement.
“In the continuing spirit of the resettlement effort, we support the Government of Nepal in its collaboration work with the international community to find a path to self-sufficiency for the expected 10-12,000 Bhutanese expected to stay in Nepal.” (PR)\