www.chinaview.cn 2007-07-29 11:38:47
KATHMANDU, July 29 (Xinhua) -- Seven thousand Bhutanese refugees may fly to the United States by September 2008, local newspaper The Himalayan Times reported on Sunday.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM), which was selected as the Overseas Processing Entity (OPE) to assist in the screening of the Bhutanese refugees before they migrate to the United States, has started setting up delayed operations in Damak, some 300 km east of capital Kathmandu.
"Significant processing" of the applications will start only at the end of this September, while only 7,000 Bhutanese refugees have a chance of flying to the United States by September 2008, the newspaper said.
This indicates that the task of processing 60,000 refugees from the total of 106,000, which the U.S. government expressed willingness to take, could take about nine years.
"The agency which was selected to process the cases is IOM. It was initially scheduled to start operations earlier on, but unstable conditions in Damak ruled that out. The task of setting up operations is going on now," spokesperson for the U.S. Embassy in Kathmandu Sharon Hudson-Dean said.
Sharon-Dean also said, "Since the process is a lengthy affair, not more than 7000 refugees may get to enter the U.S. by September 2008."
The IOM was selected as the OPE by the Bureau of Population, Refugees and Migration, Office of Admissions, under the U.S. Department of State to facilitate migration of the refugees from Nepal to the United States earlier in the year following a process which got underway on Feb. 1.
The bureau has entered into what has been identified as a "cooperative" agreement with the IOM for the period from July 1, 2007 to June 30, 2008, with the guarantee to renew the same for any number of years.
Editor: Sun Yunlong