The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Canada to accept 5,000 Bhutanese refugees

Canada will resettle up to 5,000 Bhutanese refugees who have been living in camps in Nepal since the 1990s, Minister of Citizenship and Immigration Diane Finley announced Tuesday.

"Our decision to resettle up to 5,000 refugees in Canada is part of a coordinated effort by a number of countries to address this long-standing refugee situation once and for all," said Finley in Toronto.

"Today marks an important milestone in the effort to resolve a long-standing situation of forced displacement," said Peter MacKay, Minister of Foreign Affairs.

An estimated 108,000 Bhutanese refugees of ethnic Nepalese descent have been living in seven camps in eastern Nepal since the early 1990s.

Over the past few years, the UNHCR has worked to find a solution for the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal that would involve a combination of voluntary repatriation, local integration and resettlement.

In November 2005, seven countries, Canada, Australia, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United States, formed a working group to support the UNHCR's efforts.

The mostly ethnic Nepali Hindus were expelled from Bhutan in 1990 when the Buddhist kingdom launched cultural reforms encouraging the use of Bhutan's language and national dress.

More ethnic Nepalis were later evicted for allegedly entering the country illegally.

It is expected that the Bhutanese refugees will arrive in Canada over the next three to five years.

Overall, Canada's resettlement program accepts over 11,000 refugees annually from around the world.

Source: Xinhua

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