UNHCR says there is no Maoist infiltration in refugee camps

Himalayan News Service

Kathmandu, June 17:

Representative of the United Nations’ High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in Nepal, Abraham Abraham, has refuted claims by the Bhutanese government that Maoists have infiltrated UNHCR-administered refu-gee camps in Morang and Jhapa. “This is not true,” Abraham said, brushing aside Bhutan’s accusations, and added, “There is no Maoist infiltration in the camps.” Refugee camps, he said, should be a “zone of peace”. He was quick to add, “If we don’t find a durable solution, there are chances of the refugee youths getting into militant activities.” Asked to clarify, he said UNHCR continues to be concerned the camps should be free of any political activity. He also reiterated UNHCR’s offer of “expertise and office” to try and help both Nepal and Bhutan find a comprehensive solution. Asked whether India has been a problem in the resolution of the crisis, he said, “We don’t think India is a problem, but it has to find a solution because it was via India 0the refugees entered Nepal.”

In view of the majority of refugees rejecting the idea of resettlement in a third country, Abraham conceded some “Western countries” have already offered their support to share the problems without naming them.

Abraham said delay in the process could have an adverse impact “if the recipient countries stopped their quota” for refugees. He also said that the government is of the opinion that Bhutan should initiate the repatriation of verified refugees from the Khudunabari camp in Jhapa. “Since all the refugees cannot go back or might not be allowed to go back, we must go for a viable option,” Abraham said, underscoring the option of third-country settlement.

Recounting his interaction with the refugees, he said there are some who are not going back to Bhutan. “Now we are waiting for the government’s nod on ‘profiling’ and ‘re-registering’ of refugees.