UNHCR working to complete interviews of Bhutan refugees

Damak, October 28:

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is working overtime to round the interviews of Bhutanese refugees living in camps in Jhapa and Morang districts to ascertain how many of them wish to opt for third-country settlement. The UNHCR, which had providing for the refugees living in Nepal for the last 17 years, has told them that they have the option to choose freely.

At its Damak-based office in Jhapa district, the UNHCR is wrapping up the task of interviewing refugees from all seven camps in Jhapa and Morang. At least 20 refugees are being interviewed every day.

Guman Singh Gurung of the Beldangi camp said the refugees have been told that they are free to choose individually and freely whether they want to choose third-country settlement or another option.

Based on the level of trauma suffered before and during their expatriation, those refugees who were victims of social ostracism, threats to their life and property, rape and mental torture have been classed as “sensitive”. They are being given special preference for settlement elsewhere.

Sixteen refugees were cleared for settlement elsewhere, but only 13 agreed to go, camp sources said, adding that the commission is working even on Saturdays. It is also paying for the food and travel expenses of refugees coming to the office. The field assistants of the office are deployed to contact the refugees and ensure that they reach there.

Meanwhile, the Home Ministry’s refugee monitoring committee is readying for the task of providing settlement forms to refugees wanting to settle elsewhere. An Armed Police Force post has also been set up for maintaining security.