Kathmandu, August 25:

The UN High Commissioner for Refugees and the US have expressed concern over the security situation in the Bhutanese refugee camps, which has affected their preparations for resettlement process of the refugees.

UNHCR has been administering the refugee camps and the US is a member of the core group to announce absorbing 60,000 Bhutanese refugees.

The UN agency is ready to start identifying and referring cases to third countries for resettlement, but the process has not started because the UNHCR has said it wants continued political, logistic support and security measures from the Nepal government to initiate it.

The UNHCR feels the need for the government to announce its policy on third country resettlement of the Bhutanese refugees in the camps.

UNHCR Representative in Nepal, in an email response to queries forwarded by this daily, Abraham Abraham said that they are “deeply concerned” over increasing incidents of violence, threats and intimidation in the refugee camps.

Similar views came from a US official working on Bhutanese refugee affairs. “Security is the main problem to begin resettlement process,” the official told this daily insisting anonymity.

The International Organisation for Migration (IOM) as the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) is yet to establish its office in Damak of Jhapa. It will start operating as soon the agreement is signed with Nepal soon.

Prior to beginning the process, the UNHCR would organise a mass information campaign to update all stakeholders about the process and inform the refugees about resettlement and all three durable solutions to enable them to make an informed choice about dealing with their future, Abraham said.

The UN refugee agency feels that the government has started stepping up security to prevent the outbreak of more incidents.

“We fully recognise and respect the many difficult political and security issues the government has to deal with, but we are confident that the refugee issue is high on the agenda of the government,” he concluded.

‘Third country resettlement no problem’:

Kathmandu: Chairman of the Bhutanese Movement Steering Committee and rights defender Tek Nath Rizal on Saturday said that no pro-repatriation organisation has opposed the third country resettlement offer. “In fact, responsible groups of people who aspire to resolve the refugee problem have appreciated noble proposals from different nations, including the United Sates, as an alternative to repatriation,” Rizal said a statement.

The statement said: “We have repeatedly stressed that the refugee families or individuals have every right to choose their destiny. We had only urged for clarity with regard to their future.”

“It must be made clear that there has been no opposition to the third country resettlement offer from any corner of the Bhutanese movement for repatriation and democracy,” the statement added. Rizal has also urged the Nepal Government to speed up investigation of the refugee unrest that took lives of two youths of Beldangi camp in May 2007 and expedite release of compensations as the bereaved families are yet to be compensated. — HNS