From Jhapa to Bolton
37 exiled Bhutanese destined for the United Kingdom depart from Kathmandu on Monday.
Visiting the International Organization for Migration (IOM) Transit Centre today the British Chargé D’Affaires, Sophia Willitts-King said, “The UK has a long history of welcoming people from other countries – we know that the diversity it brings makes our country stronger.”
“It’s heartening to meet the refugees about to leave for the UK to start new lives after so many years of uncertainty. I am confident that they will integrate well into their new host community and I wish them every success in the UK,” she added.
“Participation in this project gives one a tremendous sense of satisfaction,“ said Sarat Dash, IOM Chief of Mission in Nepal. “IOM is proud to assist in giving these refugees a new start in life.”
“We are extremely grateful to the government of UK for this offer and appreciate the speed of the response by the UK government – with this first group of refugees departing only some eight months after the offer was made,” said
Stéphane Jaquemet, UNHCR Representative in Nepal.
Jaquemet added, “We hope that other countries would also consider resettling refugees from Bhutan.”
UK has now joined the ‘Core Group’ – now a group of eight resettlement countries – that has offered resettlement to the Bhutan citizens as part of responsibility sharing.
Over 34,500 Bhutanese have departed to the United States and other countries since the launch of the resettlement programme by UNHCR in November 2007. The United States has so far accepted 29,496, Canada 1,877, Australia 1,787, New Zealand 461, Norway 335, Denmark 326, and the Netherlands 224.
The resettlement programme is continuing successfully with strong cooperation between the Government of Nepal, the IOM, the resettlement countries, and UNHCR.
Tens of thousands of exiled Bhtanese have been living in exile for almost 20 years in seven camps in eastern Nepal.
While resettlement is currently the only available option for refugees in the camps, UNHCR, together with the international community, will continue efforts to achieve comprehensive and lasting solutions to the plight of these people from Bhutan, including voluntary repatriation as and when return conditions permit.
Some 77,616 Bhutanese remain in seven camps in eastern Nepal.
Of these, over 56,400 individuals have declared an interest in resettlement. It is projected that more than 40,000 will have departed by the end of 2010.
The 37 people from the camps in Nepal were selected following an offer by the Government of the UK in November 2009 to take some 100 individuals in 2010