Wed Dec 9, 2009 7:25pm IST Email | Print | Share | Single Page [-] Text [+]
KATHMANDU (Reuters) - At least 25,000 refugees from Bhutan have been resettled in the West, including the United States, after languishing for nearly 20 years in camps in east Nepal, the U.N. refugee agency said on Wednesday.
More than 110,000 refugees of ethnic Nepali origin left Bhutan since the 1990s claiming ethnic discrimination in the predominantly Buddhist nation.
Several rounds of ministerial meetings between Nepal and Bhutan failed to repatriate the refugees, an issue that has strained ties between the two South Asian nations.
Several Western countries including the United States began taking the refugees two years ago under a controversial scheme opposed by some exiles who say they want to return home.
The Nepal office of the U.N. High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said the United States had so far accepted the largest number of 22,060 refugees followed by Australia (1006), Canada (892), Norway (316), Denmark (305), New Zealand (299) and the Netherlands (122).
The resettlement process has never been easy, said Diane Goodman, UNHCR Acting Representative in Nepal.
"We have been receiving regular feedback from those resettled," Goodman said. "They have written to us about their lives; they are learning new languages, their children are in school and they are happy with their new homes."
UNHCR said 86,739 refugees from Bhutan were still living in seven U.N. supervised camps in eastern Nepal - of them more than 80,728 had signed up for resettlement in the West.
Washington says it is prepared to take more than 60,000 refugees from Nepal.
(Reporting by Gopal Sharma)
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