EU supports UNHCR in protecting Bhutanese refugees in Nepal

KATHMANDU: The European Union said it extended a support of Euro 2 million – equivalent to NRs 231 million – to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees for "protection and sustainable solutions" for the Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal.

The Kathmandu-based EU delegation said the UN refugee agency would use the funds over the next three years to resettle Bhutanese refugees to third countries and to provide care for those who opt to remain in Nepal.

The support to be provided in Nepal would include physical and legal protection as well as services including shelter, education, health, sanitation, access to sustainable energy and support in addressing psycho-social and other specific needs, the EU statement said.

"The European Union is more than delighted to make this contribution that will go into meeting the basic needs of the 17,000 Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal," EU Ambassador to Nepal, Rensje Teerink said, "I hope that the assistance will enable a congenial living environment for the refugees who have been receiving the support from the EU for many years now."

The EU has been continuously supporting UNHCR’s activities for the refugees from Bhutan since 1994.

Meanwhile, commenting on the new agreement UNHCR Nepal Representative Craig Sanders hoped the fresh assistance would fill funding gaps of the UNHCR.

More than 101,000 Bhutanese refugees have begun new lives in eight countries since the launch of the resettlement programme in late 2007.

Nepal currently hosts over 17,000 Bhutanese refugees in the two camps. It is estimated that around 10-12,000 refugees will remain in these camps as the resettlement operation concludes in the near future.