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Bhutan/Nepal: India pledges support to High Commissioner

Briefing notes

Bhutan/Nepal: India pledges support to High Commissioner

5 May 2000

The High Commissioner met with the external affairs and law ministers of India today in New Delhi on the last stop of a nine-day trip to the Indian subcontinent to try and accelerate a solution to the problem of the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal. She requested and obtained the support of India for UNHCR's efforts to resolve the Bhutanese refugee problem. She flies back to Geneva later today.

During her first visit to the region, Mrs. Ogata met with the kings of Bhutan and Nepal and other top leaders of these two countries. She is very encouraged by the willingness and determination of the two governments to find an early solution to the refugee problem.

The visit has helped ease difficulties in implementing bilateral agreements, particularly those relating to the verification of refugee cases among the nearly 100,000 Bhutanese in camps in Nepal. Both Nepal and Bhutan have accepted the High Commissioner's proposal to use UNHCR's refugee database as a reference for joint verification.

The High Commissioner believes that the visit has been timely and has created a momentum which needs to be maintained. The next step will be the meeting of the two foreign ministers scheduled later this month. UNHCR hopes that this will be followed within one month by the verification process in a camp chosen by the two governments.