Formal refugee resettlement process to begin next week

Kathmandu, November 3:

The process for the resettlement of some 60,000 Bhutanese refugees in the United States will formally kickstart next week with the first batch of some 3,000 refugees undergoing interview in Damak of Jhapa. The entire resettlement process will take at least five years to complete, a senior US official said today.

Adressing a press meet at the American Embassy in kathmandu today, US Assistant Secretary of State for Population, Refugees, and Migration Ellen R. Sauerbrey said the first batch of refugees might fly to the US within four to six months after the completion of the due process including the medical examination.

Sauerbrey said that nearly 3,000 refugees have expressed desire for resettlement at present. “We expect, in the next 12 months, that we will interview some 15,000 refugees,” she said.

It has also been revealed that the refugees shifing to the US will have to pay back the transportation costs within 2-3 years once they start earning.

Sauerbrey is flying to Bhutan tomorrow to meet and discuss on the refugee crisis with the Bhutanese authorities.

Saying that she has found India “supportive” in the resettlement process, she said, “India is a very important part of the solution of the refugee problem.” Sauerbrey will fly to India on November 7.

Sauerbrey warned that the resettlement should not encourage Bhutan to expel its citizens further. “We will be closely watching to see that no additional people are evicted from Bhutan.”

Referring to her meeting with PM Girija Prasad Koirala today, Sauerbrey said Koirala “inquired in detail about the number and time frame for resettlement” of the Bhutanese refugees. “He made a strong request to pressurise Bhutan to take back its people,” she said.

Sauerbrey also said that US continued to remain interested in resettling the 5000 Tibetan refugees living in Nepal in the US. Shesid the US was waiting for Nepal’s response on it.