Refugees in Goldhap camp in eastern Nepal25 March 2008 – One of the largest refugee resettlement operations in the world has been launched this week, with more than 100 Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal heading to the United States to begin new lives, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) reported.
“This is the largest movement of refugees from Nepal’s camps so far, and the pace will pick up in the coming months,” agency spokesperson Jennifer Pagonis told reporters in Geneva.
By the close of 2008, over 10,000 refugees are expected to leave Nepal for resettlement in the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.
Currently, there are more than 107,000 refugees – who left Bhutan in the early 1990s – residing in seven camps in eastern Nepal.
Some 25,000 refugees have registered for resettlement, UNHCR said. The agency has submitted more than 12,000 names to third countries, mostly to the US.
“More refugees are expected to come forward for resettlement after they hear of how the first groups integrate in their new homes,” Ms. Pagonis noted, adding that others are holding out for a chance to return to Bhutan.
Earlier this month, UNHCR appealed for funds after a devastating fire destroyed 95 per cent of the Goldhap refugee camp and left most of its 9,770 residents homeless.