Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Unsettling Resettlement of Bhutan’s Refugees

As resettlement of refugees from Bhutan gains momentum and the UK becomes the eighth country to take them in, leaders in exile wonder if repatriation is now a lost cause, Deepak Adhikari writes for ISN Security Watch.

Swanky and snow-white buses emblazoned with blue IOM (International Organization for Migration) ferry a group of people who seem out of place in Kathmandu's crowd. Led by an IOM escort, the passengers – men, women children and the elderly - queue up in single file at Kathmandu's only international airport.

They are Bhutanese refugees, who after languishing in the sprawling refugee camps in southeastern Nepal, are now heading to western countries, thanks to a 2006 offer floated by the US. In early October that year, Ellen Saurbrey, US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees and Migration, told the UNHCR's executive meeting in Geneva that the US would absorb up to 60,000 refugees over three or four years.

The relocation of Bhutanese refugees (third country resettlement), which began in earnest in November 2007, is largest such project in the world. Read more:

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