The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Monday, January 8, 2007

Urban refugees in Nepal

Refugees to stage sit in at UNHCR


KATHMANDU, Jan 8 - Hundreds of refugees, sheltering under the urban program of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), have decided to stage a sit-in on Monday to protest against the UNHCR's recent decision to decrease the amount of financial assistance being provided.
Talking to A concerned refugee preferring anonymity said about four hundred refugees from about a dozen countries will stage a sit-in in front of the UNHCR Office in Kathmandu protesting against its latest decision.

Recently issuing a notice, the UNHCR had informed all refugees that it would provide Rs 2,200 for principal applicant, Rs 1,200 for 1st dependent and Rs 600 for additional dependents, as financial assistance in the form of monthly subsistence allowance effective from February 1.

According to concerned refugees, principal applicant, 1st dependent and additional dependents have been receiving Rs 4,500, Rs 2,500 and Rs 1,500 respectively, as financial assistance till date.

Refugees said that the recent decision of the UNHCR was against the welfare of refugees in Nepal. "Following this decision over 345 refugees will be directly affected because this amount is not enough to manage our daily needs," another refugee said.

However, the UNHCR said, "The increased number of urban refugees together with budgetary constraints have obliged UNHCR to review the terms of assistance." The UNHCR has also said that it was a general policy worldwide to discontinue financial assistance after a maximum period of six months. The decision to decrease the allowances has also been taken, to be able to exceptionally continue the assistance to refugees in Nepal beyond six moths, the UNHCR added. In addition, a discretional assistance will be provided to particularly vulnerable individuals with specific needs and the existing medical assistance policy will continue as before.

At present nearly 700 refugees and asylum seekers from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Burma, China, Iran, Iraq, Somalia, Ethiopia and Liberia are taking shelter in Nepal.

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