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Nepal: Start of resettlement process for Bhutanese refugees

Briefing notes

Nepal: Start of resettlement process for Bhutanese refugees

6 November 2007

UNHCR and its partners are laying the groundwork for the large-scale resettlement of refugees from Bhutan living in Nepal's camps by kicking off a mass information campaign to help them make an informed decision. The first group of accepted refugees is expected to leave early next year.

This follows last Friday's announcement by the government of Nepal that refugees who wish to opt for third country resettlement can do so based on an informed choice and acceptance by the resettlement country.

The United States has announced that it will resettle 60,000 refugees and even more if required. Other members of the Core Group consisting of Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway have also expressed their desire to take their share in the resettlement of refugees. In addition, Canada has announced its plan to resettle 5,000 refugees from Bhutan currently living in Nepal's camps.

Resettlement to the United States is organized by the US government through its Overseas Processing Entity (OPE), the International Organization for Migration (IOM). IOM will process resettlement of refugees on the basis of referrals made by UNHCR, and only where expressions of interest for resettlement have been made known to UNHCR.

The first group of refugees is expected to leave by January 2008. Prior to their departure, they will undergo cultural orientation that will be organised by IOM and the resettlement countries to prepare them for their new life.

Some 107,000 refugees from Bhutan are currently living in seven camps in eastern Nepal, some of them for as long as 17 years.

UNHCR and the international community will continue efforts to ensure that as many doors as possible are opened to achieve lasting solutions to their plight, including voluntary repatriation to Bhutan as and when return conditions permit.