CA polls bring hope for Bhutan refugees

Damak, April 18:

Bhutanese refugees are hopeful that their problems will be resolved with the successful conclusion of the constituent assembly polls in Nepal.

They expressed optimism that the new government will take the issue of repatriation seriously and help them return home safely and respectfully after years of life as refugees in the eastern region of Nepal.

One Aaita Man Subba, refugee in Jhapa’s Damak-based Beldangi camp, said that Nepal is on the path to see long-lasting peace in the country after the constituent assembly election and that their issue will be addressed better and in effective manner.

Laxmimaya Nepal of the same camp in Damak said rumour is rife in the camp that the next government to be formed will initiate to send the refugees back to Bhutan. She said: “Our issues were overshadowed because Nepal was facing an unstable situation. Now, we are confident that the issue of repatriation will be dealt with.” The refugees remained divided after the third country resettlement issue was floated for resolving their problems. Some refugees said their problem will be resolved only through repatriation to Bhutan, while others favoured the third country resettlement offer.

Countries like the United States, Australia, New Zealand, including others, have taken some Bhutanese refugees in their fold under their third country resettlement plan. President of the Bhutan People’s Party Balram Poudel said the issues of the Bhutanese refugees can be resolved only through repatriation to homeland. He said: “The refugees’ problems are purely political in nature. Thus, it should be dealt with politically.”

Meanwhile, 11 refugees of the Beldangi camp were flown to Kathmandu today for resettlement in the US. In another incident today, police confiscated home-made alcohol from Jhapa’s Damak-based Beldangi camp. A patrolling team of the Armed Police Force seized 100 litres of hooch from Beldangi-1 based camp today, DSP Ramkumar Lamichhane.

Though the sale of alcohol is prohibited at the refugee camps, its sale is on the rise at all the seven camps in Jhapa and Morang.