Bhutanese refugees’ headcount begins

Damak, November 15:

The census of Bhutanese refugees languishing at different camps in Jhapa and Morang districts of eastern Nepal began today.

The refugees over 16 years of age will be distributed identity cards after the census.

A joint team of representatives of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Home Ministry began conducting the census in the camp at Beldangi-1 of Damak municipality.

The team said census and record-keeping of 580 Bhutanese refugees belonging to 87 families staying in Sectors A1, B1 and C1 of the Beldangi camp concluded today.

A Bhutanese refugee, Tara Bir Tamang, said the team also took information about the situation of the refugees’ relatives back in Bhutan. The team also took photographs of the Bhutanese refugees of the camp, he added.

Assistant Chief District Officer of Jhapa, Murari Raj Sharma, said the record-keeping of Bhutanese refugees would be done in a sophisticated and systematic manner.

“Refugees over 16 years of age will be given identity cards after the census is complete,” CDO Sharma said.

He added that a team led by undersecretary at the Home Ministry Surya Prasad Sharma is conducting the census in Beldangi camp.

No census of Bhutanese refugees has been conducted since 1990 when they first came to Nepal.

Around 80,000 Bhutanese refugees had come to Nepal then, according to the Bhutan News Online site.

The number has now reached over 1,06,000 of which around 42,000 are children, the refugees’ coordination unit estimated.