Moriarty visits camp to intensify settlement programe [2007-05-25]
Damak, May 25: US ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty, while talking to exiled Bhutanese in Jhapa on Friday said the third country resettlement process would being from September and it takes at least six months to complete the process before travel to the US.
Moriarty, who was on his one-day visit to the camps, said, "Resettlement in the US may not be the best option for every exiled Bhutanese, and only those who freely choose resettlement in the US will be considered."
He further said his government and other donors will continue to advocate for their right of return to their homeland even after they are resettled.
He also announced the additional assistance of US$2 million in-kind contribution to the World Food Program through the USAID Food for Peace (FFP) program.
Exiled Bhutanese are restricted from engaging in economic activities outside the camps and from owning land.
He said, "The US offer is part of efforts by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Core Working Group of countries trying to find a durable solution to your situation. The Core Working Group includes Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the United States."
The group had issued a communiqué in May of this year calling on the governments of Nepal and Bhutan to find a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the crisis.
Moriarty also informed that the US State Department selected the International Organization for Migration (IOM) as the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) for resettlement programme. Based in Kathmandu, IOM will conduct most processing activities in Jhapa.
The OPE Kathmandu office will start operation from July 2007 and begin processing the first exiled Bhutanese referred by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) in September. Bhutan News Service
Jhapa, Friday, May 25, 2007
It is wonderful to be here today to discuss my country's offer to resettle you and your fellow refugees in the United States. The United States has offered to consider for resettlement in the U.S. 60,000 or more Bhutanese refugees now in camps in Nepal. The U.S. offer is part of efforts by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the Core Working Group of countries trying to find a durable solution to your situation. The Core Working Group includes Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway, and the United States. The group issued a communiqué in May of this year calling on the governments of Nepal and Bhutan to find a comprehensive and sustainable solution to the refugee crisis.
The United States is the world's largest refugee resettlement country. More than two and a half million refugees have found a home in the U.S. since 1975. Our interest in resettlement is a humanitarian one; we believe that our response to refugees is a moral imperative to alleviate the suffering of others. However, resettlement in the United States may not be the best option for every Bhutanese refugee, and only those of you who freely choose resettlement in the United States will be considered. During the resettlement process, the U.S. Government, and I am certain other donor governments, will continue to advocate for the refugees' right of return to their homeland
With the cooperation of the Nepal Government, the U.S. Government will shortly begin large-scale resettlement processing of Bhutanese refugees currently residing in the seven camps here in eastern Nepal. The U.S. program is expected to run for several years.
I am pleased to announce the selection of the International Organization for Migration (IOM) to establish and operate a new Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) in Nepal. IOM will open the U.S. OPE in Kathmandu in July. The OPE will open an office in Jhapa and begin processing activities in September. Once resettlement processing begins, it will take a minimum of six months from a family's first interview until their travel to the United States .
Each refugee who applies for resettlement will undergo a face-to-face interview with an official of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security's Citizenship and Immigration Service. Refugees are approved for admission to the United States based on an evaluation of their refugee claim and their need for resettlement -- not on qualities such as job skills, age, or level of education.
Immediate family members approved for U.S. admission are sent to the U.S. together. While any refugee over the age of 21 may choose to resettle on his or her own, if families choose resettlement together, they will not be separated. Let me repeat: Families will not be separated. Also, wherever possible, other relatives will be resettled in the same cities. Refugees are resettled in both urban and rural locations throughout the United States.
Each arriving refugee family is sponsored by a non-governmental organization in the United States that provides initial housing, basic furniture, food and clothing to help you when you first arrive. These organizations will also help you to find jobs, enroll you in English classes, and register your children in school. You will be eligible to receive cash and medical assistance from the U.S. government for a limited time after your arrival in the United States. Your economic self-sufficiency is an important goal of our resettlement program.
Upon arrival in the United States, you are no longer considered a refugee. There are no refugee camps in America. You will not be expelled from the United States. You will be free to move around the country, to seek employment according to your interests, and to worship as you desire. After one year in the United States, you may apply for permanent resident status, and after five years, you may become U.S. citizens. This is your choice. Resettlement in the United States does not preclude the possibility of your return to Bhutan should that option become available later. There have been rumors about this and I want to make very clear that those rumors are completely false.
Before I take questions, I am also happy to announce that the United States is making an additional $2 million in-kind contribution to the World Food Program for Bhutanese refugees. This extra donation through the USAID Food for Peace (FFP) program is in addition to the U.S.'s first donation of $1.8 million earlier this year. Our total contribution this year so far is $3.8 million. We well appreciate your current status: you cannot engage in economic activities outside the camps; you cannot own land. Humanitarian assistance, like food aid from the donor community, is critical to meeting your basic needs. Over the last six years, the United States has contributed nearly US$ 11.5 million to the Bhutanese refugee food program.
Thank you very much for your attention.