Wednesday, September 24, 2008

UN Helps Settle over 5,000 Refugees from Bhutan

The Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees [UNHCR] helped more than 5,000 refugees from Bhutan leave their camps in Nepal for resettlement in other countries. The United States accepted the largest number of refugees with 4,833, followed by 131 refugees in Australia and 129 in New Zealand. The program hopes to resettle another 2,000 to 3,000 before the end of the year. There are currently 107,000 refugees originating from Bhutan living in seven camps in eastern Nepal. Nearly half of them have expressed an interest in resettlement. Some of the refugees have been in exile for as long as 17 years. The resettlement process has run smoothly due to the collaborative efforts of UNHCR, the International Organization for Migration [IOM], the Nepalese government and the resettlement countries. The program has created opportunities for success for the refugees by holding English classes and skill-training at the camps. "Although starting over is not easy, there is a program for everyone with the resettling agencies, no matter what age, qualification or gender. We have seen other former refugees doing well, so we can do it as well," says one refugee who recently arrived in the U.S.