Resettlement worries locals, basic needs urged (Exclusive)

Published on Nov 19 2008 // Main News

Damak, November 19: Locals residing near the exiled Bhutanese camps in Jhapa and Morang districts have expressed a sense of fear over possible impact on their day today life following the resettlement program. 

Kul Bahadur Khadka, who has been running a small hotel near Beldangi, Jhapa since the establishment of camps, said he is worried of whether he would be able to find alternatives to meet basic necessity of his family members including joining hand-to-mouth once all exiled Bhutanese are resettled.

"I can't really imagine the moment when all exiled Bhutanese are resettled overseas", said Khadka, adding that his income sources were mainly exiled Bhutanese working in wool factories near the camps.

Khadka strongly demanded the government of Nepal and refugee-aiding agencies to explore alternatives to help earn a normal living before all exiled Bhutanese are resettled in western countries.

Buddhi Man Tamang, a local shopkeeper near Morang-based Sanischare camp, also expressed similar feelings. Tamang said that a number of shopkeepers depending on exiled Bhutanese would face problem even to mange basic expenses to earn their living once the latter is resettled in third countries. "If possible, the best solution would be to allow at least one of our family members for third country resettlement", said Tamang.  

Locals residing in the refugee-affected area, five kilometers from each of the seven exiled Bhutanese camps, are one way or the other getting depended on people in camps. Most of the locals in refugee-affected areas run business targeting exiled Bhutanese as major consumers.

Gopal Gadtaula, Jhapa-based local journalist, said locals in refugee-affected areas will face shortage of laborers. A large number of exiled Bhutanese work as labor in local areas even in low wages. "However, it is good on our part to see protracted exiled Bhutanese issue getting resolved", said Gadtaula, adding that there would be certain impact on locals if all exiled Bhutanese are resettled.

Neither the government of Nepal nor the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees have made it public yet regarding what these authorities would do to locals in the refugee-affected areas once all exiled Bhutanese are resettled in third countries. Thakur P. Mishra/Bhutan News Service