90,000th Bhutanese refugee flying to US from Nepal for resettlement

KATHMANDU: The 90,000th Bhutanese refugee, living in Nepal, is all set to fly to the United States along with her four children for the third-country resettlement.

US Ambassador to Nepal Alaina B. Teplitz bid farewell to Sahri Maya Thatal at the US Embassy in Kathmandu on Tuesday, on the eve of her departure to New Hampshire, where Thatal will live with her children. Paul Norton, the chief of mission of International Organization for Migration (IOM) in Nepal, and Kevin Allen, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) Country Representative, were also present on the occasion.

Thatal and her children were living in the Bhutanese Refugee Camp in Beldangi of Jhapa district in eastern Nepal.

“The Nepali people and government have been very gracious hosts to refugees for decades and the third-country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees is one of the most successful refugee management stories in recent memory,” Ambassador Teplitz has been quoted as saying in a statement issued by the US Embassy in Kathmandu.

The US diplomat, who visited the Beldangi Refugee Camp last week and discussed the third-country resettlement programme, added, "However, the massive resettlement programme is coming to an end. While the international community continues to ask the Government of Bhutan to repatriate those refugees who would like to return, finding a durable solution here in Nepal for those who will remain is critical.”

Speaking at a ceremony organised at the US Embassy in Kathmandu today, Thatal shared her hopes for new opportunities for herself and her children in the United States after spending over 20 years in a refugee camp.

With 90,000 in the United States, the total number of Bhutanese refugees who have been resettled to third-countries has reached 105,000.

The third-party resettlement programme for the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal started in 2007.

With the support from the the UNHCR, IOM and Government of Nepal, thousands of Bhutanese refugees who were forced to leave Bhutan and their children born in refugee camps were taken to Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, the United Kingdom and the United States of America for their resettlement.