KATHMANDU, APR 25: Bhutanese political parties that are active in Nepal have sought international help for the repatriation of the remaining refugees, who do not want a third-country resettlement, to Bhutan.
Two active Bhutanese political parties in exile — Bhutan National Democratic Party (BNDP) and Druk National Congress (DNC) — today urged the Bhutanese government, the government of Nepal and the international community, including India and US-led countries that are involved in resettling refugees from Bhutan, to ensure return of the remaining Bhutanese refugees to their homeland with honour and dignity.
At a press conference in the capital today, the BNDP and DNC jointly put forth a five-point proposal to permanently resolve the 25-year-old refugee problem.
The other demands include granting citizenship certificate to some 28,000 Bhutanese of Nepali origin and 10,000 individuals from other communities, granting Non-Resident Bhutanese (NRB) status to the resettled Bhutanese by Bhutan government and unconditional release of all the political prisoners, the number of whom is said to be 50.
Acting President of Bhutan National Democratic Party, DNS Dhakal, said as many as 21,884 registered refugees were living in the camps in the eastern part of Nepal and most of them wish to return home.
Addressing the refugees in Beldangi and Sanischare camps in Jhapa and Morang yesterday, US Ambassador to Nepal Peter W Bodde said, “The refugees are welcome to resettle in foreign countries where they have a bright future.” According to Refugee Coordination Unit Office in Jhapa, as of March 31, 95,902 Bhutanese refugees have left the camps in Nepal under the third-country resettlement programme.
Of the total Bhutanese refugees resettled so far, the United States of Ameria has taken 81,192, Canada has taken ; 6,271, Australia has taken 5,357, New Zealand has taken 963, Denmark has taken 874, Norway has taken 561, the Netherlands has taken 362, and the UK has taken 358. Pema Tendzin, Vice President of Druk National Congress, hoped the Bhutanese government would pay attention to their demands as an opportunity to resolve the refugee problems.
“All we want is to find an amicable solution to the refugee problem through dialogue,” Dhakal added. Meanwhile, Teknath Rizal, an exiled human rights activist of Bhutan, said many Bhutanese of Nepali origin were being expelled from Bhutan.
According to him, around 2,000 to 2,500 Bhutanese people have sought refuge in Jhapa and Morang-based camps even after the closure of the refugees’ registration in 2012.
Rizal also expressed his dissatisfaction at the Nepal government for dilly-dallying to renew his travel document without any reason. “Nepal government has neither denied nor accepted my request to renew my travel document,” he said during the press meet, adding, “I can’t travel anywhere without the document.”