UN refugee agency condemns blasts at IOM office in Nepal

News Stories, 1 July 2008

© UNHCR/J.Pagonis
The IOM compound in Damak, eastern Nepal, is right beside UNHCR's office.

KATHMANDU, Nepal, July 1 (UNHCR) The UN refugee agency and its partners have condemned an overnight attack on the compound of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) in eastern Nepal, and warned that continued violence could affect aid delivery to refugees from Bhutan.

On Monday evening, the office and bus parking area of the IOM in Damak, eastern Nepal, were hit by three explosions. The office, which is used to process refugees for resettlement to a third country, suffered minor damages. No one was injured. Local police are investigating.

In a joint statement, the agencies said, "IOM, UNHCR and WFP (World Food Programme) are shocked and outraged by this senseless attack, which is aimed at undermining the humanitarian efforts by the UN agencies and the international community to aid refugees from Bhutan who have been through decades of suffering in camps in eastern Nepal."

The blasts are the latest in a series of violent incidents targeting IOM Damak in recent months. In May, two IOM buses were attacked by unidentified men on the road when shuttling refugees between Khudunabari and Sanischare camps and IOM Damak for resettlement interviews and procedures.

Since the beginning of this year, some 1,350 refugees have departed for resettlement countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Denmark, Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway. More than 38,500 refugees have so far expressed interest in resettlement.

In total, nearly 108,000 refugees from Bhutan are living in seven camps in eastern Nepal. Some have been waiting for as long as 17 years for a chance to return home, but bilateral talks on repatriation to Bhutan have produced no results to date. To help them out of this stalemate, the international community last year agreed to resettle those who wish to start afresh in another country.

However, certain pro-repatriation groups in the camps are opposed to resettlement and have threatened others to boycott it.

"Each refugee and his or her family must have the freedom to make an informed choice on whether they would like to be considered for resettlement," stressed Daisy Dell, UNHCR's representative in Nepal. "Neither they nor the agencies helping them should be intimidated or threatened."

The refugee agency, together with IOM and WFP, has urged all concerned parties to immediately stop such cowardly attacks.

For now, refugee assistance in the camps will continue, as will the processing of resettlement cases. However, warned the agencies, "Continued intimidation and attacks on IOM may eventually have consequences on all programme delivery for the refugee operation, not just the resettlement component.

• DONATE NOW •

 

• GET INVOLVED • • STAY INFORMED •

UNHCR country pages

Related Internet Links

UNHCR is not responsible for the content and availability of external internet sites

Pakistan: Fleeing to Safety

More than 1.5 million people flee their homes in North-West Pakistan.

Fighting between the army and Taliban militants in and around the Swat Valley in Pakistan's North-West Frontier Province has displaced more than 1.5 million people since the beginning of May. Some of the displaced are being sheltered in camps set up by the government and supplied by UNHCR. Others - the majority, in fact - are staying in public buildings, such as schools, or with friends and extended family members. Living conditions are harsh. With the onset of summer, rising temperatures are contributing to a range of ailments, especially for villagers from Swat accustomed to a cooler climate. Pakistan's displacement crisis has triggered an outpouring of generosity at home. UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres is urging a "massive" assistance effort from abroad as well.

Pakistan: Fleeing to Safety

An Infant's Journey to Safety

Three days after giving birth to her fourth child, a girl she named Hawler, Peroz concluded that the situation in her hometown of Hassake, Syria, was too dangerous for her children. She decided to make the difficult journey to northern Iraq. Along the way, she and Hawler were sick. "I was terrified the baby might die," said Peroz, 27.

Although the border was closed, guards felt compassion for the newborn child and let Peroz's family enter. A few days later Peroz and her children were reunited with their father and now they are living with hundreds of other refugees in a small park on the outskirts of Erbil.

Battling mosquitoes and soaring daytime temperatures, and with little more than blankets for comfort and a breakfast of bread and cheese for nourishment, Peroz and her husband hope to be transferred to a new tented settlement.

Over the past few weeks, tens of thousands of Syrians have flooded into northern Iraq, fleeing violence. With existing camps at full capacity, many refugee families are finding shelter anywhere they can. The local government has started transferring people from Qushtapa Park to a nearby camp. UNHCR is registering the refugees, as well as providing tents and life-saving assistance.

An Infant's Journey to Safety

Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

Thousands of Malian families have arrived in Niger since mid-January, fleeing fighting between a rebel Tuareg movement and Malian government forces in northern Mali. Refugees are living in makeshift settlements along the border, exposed to the sun and wind by day, and cold at night. UNHCR has started distributing relief assistance and is planning to open camps in safer areas further away from the border. UNHCR's Helene Caux met with some the refugees who all expressed their desire to return to their country once peace prevails.

Malian refugees flee for safety to Niger

Sweden: Mahmoud's EscapePlay video

Sweden: Mahmoud's Escape

Mahmoud was one of more than 300,000 Syrian refugees who have sought safety in Egypt since the conflict in his homeland began three years ago. The nine-year-old was so desperate to attend school that he risked his life to get to Europe. He was stopped and sent back to Egypt but is now making a fresh start in Sweden.
UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR  and CameroonPlay video

UNHCR's Dr. Paul Spiegel on the Border of CAR and Cameroon

This video was shot by one of our staff* using a mobile phone as they helped refugees who had crossed the river to safety.
Jordan: Beyond No Man's LandPlay video

Jordan: Beyond No Man's Land

In a remote area of north-east Jordan, hundreds of Syrian refugees arrive at an unofficial border point after walking for days and crossing a stretch of no man's land to reach safety.