The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North

The Sorry Saga of Bhutan's North
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Sunday, July 29, 2007

7,000 Bhutanese refugees may fly to U.S. by Sep. 2008 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

Bhutan offered southern district to India, claims scholar

From correspondents in Kathmandu, Nepal, 03:01 PM IST

A group of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, who have been trying to go back to their homeland from where they were evicted because of their Nepali origin nearly two decades ago, says it has learnt about 'an astonishing exchange of parleys' between India and Bhutan regarding the protracted refugee problem.
The National Front for Democracy in Bhutan, an umbrella of several Bhutanese political parties in exile, says the Bhutan government made a 'desperate' proposal to India to solve the refugee impasse that has tarnished Bhutan's image in the eyes of the international community. It has also cast doubts over King Jigme Wangchuk's abdication in favour of his son in an avowed bid to promote democracy and usher in the first election next year.
The exiled Bhutanese group is citing an article written by academic Mahendra P. Lama of the School of International Studies at New Delhi's Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) that was published along with other papers last month.
'The Politics, Human Rights and Implications of Protracted Refugee Situations', published by Oxford University, United Nations University, Tokyo and Centre for International Studies, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, US, last month carries a paper by Lama where he says he learnt about an offer made by Bhutan to India during discussions with senior Indian officials.
According to Lama, Bhutan offered to give up one of its southern districts, where the population includes people mostly of Nepali origin, and which was subjected to a massive eviction drive that forced people to flee to India and Nepal.
Thimphu offered to hand over the district to India, its biggest donor, trade partner and foreign affairs adviser, for re-settlement of the refugees and other Nepali speaking Bhutanese citizens, Lama's article says.
Had India accepted the proposal, it would have badly affected the already much-frayed India-Nepal relations with Nepal regarding India as having annexed the once independent Sikkim.
While lauding India for turning down the proposal, the refugee group has begun a campaign against 'the deliberate anti-national attempt of (the) despotic regime' of Bhutan to 'disintegrate the country in order to continue holding on to power'.
Issuing a statement in Nepal, NFD-Bhutan said it would launch a mass awareness campaign in Bhutan, adopting the model of the non-violent protests organised by Nepal's opposition parties last year that succeeded in toppling King Gyanendra's government, though it was backed by the army.
The organisation warned that the campaign could include general strikes and taking the issue to international forums to highlight the 'anti-national policies' of the Bhutan government.
It also said it would stage a second long march to Bhutan soon and was garnering support from the liberal parties in India. Many Bhutanese refugee leaders are in Indian cities and are expected to give a boost to the march back home.
The Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, who number over 106,000, have been in a stage of ferment since the US government said it was willing to resettle in American cities and towns as many Bhutanese refugees as favoured third-country resettlement.
The offer came after the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, which administers refugee camps in eastern Nepal, said the donors maintaining the camps were growing weary of an impasse that showed no sign of resolution and funding was increasingly slashed.
The resettlement offer has divided the refugees, part of whom want to accept it and part who favour returning home.
The pro-repatriation group is reported to be trying to intimidate those who want to accept the US offer, leading to growing tension and violence in the camps.

Monday, July 23, 2007

Unheard Option by the government for the people

Press Release
Friday, July 22, 2007
The NFD-Bhutan (National Front for Democracy in Bhutan) has learnt about an astonishing
exchange of parleys between the officials of the governments of Bhutan and India in the recent past
regarding the protracted Bhutanese political problem. The text below written by Prof. Mahendra P
Lama of School of International Studies, Jawaharlal Nehru University in a "Paper for the volume in
The Politics, Human Rights and Implications of Protracted Refugee Situations," brought out by
Oxford University, United Nations University, Tokyo and Centre for International Studies,
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA, released on June 2007, is self explanatory:
…"Discussion by this researcher with various senior Indian officials has revealed very many
interesting parleys between India and Bhutan. The offer by Bhutan to part with one of the districts in
southern Bhutan and handing the same over to India for re-settlement of the refugees and other
Nepali speaking Bhutanese citizens has often been mentioned. Given its serious international
ramifications, this was apparently discarded by India as a desperate proposal from Bhutan…."
[Page 29]

National Front for Democracy in Bhutan (NFD-Bhutan), while thanking India for subsequently
discarding the agenda as a "desperate proposal" from Bhutan and in view of its "serious international
ramifications" takes this as a very serious but deliberate anti-national attempt of despotic regime to
disintegrate the country in order to continue holding on to the power. The NFD-Bhutan strongly
condemns such nefarious acts and would hold the present incumbents responsible in the event that
even an inch of sovereignty and territorial integrity of the country is compromised.
The NFD-Bhutan suggests the RGOB that the entire present imbroglio plaguing the nation can be
solved decently through "National Political Harmonization Programme" as already initiated vide
April 21, 2007 memorandum submitted to the King of Bhutan. The NFD-Bhutan will launch mass
awareness campaigning inside Bhutan which could even include the call of non-violent movement
like general strikes in the Himalayan Kingdom and taking the issues to the international forums as
means of retaliation to the anti-national policies of the RGOB.
Thinley Penjore

The Making of a Nation in Bhutan

Period: 21 July - 19 September 2003. Country: Bhutan
(1) The Making of a Nation in Bhutan
MIYAMOTO Mari (Division of Southeast Asian Area Studies)
Key Words: Self-Representation, Mahayana Buddhism, Movement of Environmental Conservation, Small Population, System of Compulsory Labor Contribution
An elementary school in national park. The government and NGO's effort at promoting environmental education.
Photo at Wangdue Phodrang. Many towns were built along the valleys in Bhutan.
A carpenter building a house.(2) The purpose of my dissertation is to analyze the characteristics of nation-making in Bhutan. In order to clarify the process, I have focused on three aspects: first, the historical change of the “system of compulsory labor contribution”; second, the policy of promoting “Bhutanese national culture” and third, the movement of environmental conservation. The system of compulsory labor contribution was introduced by the government in 1959 in a development plan to build a domestic highway. The development plan required a large amount of labor, therefore the royal government of Bhutan exacted big amount of labor from all villages under the system called “Dudom” or “Chunidom.” The people who were gathered in one place at one time share common experiences and common memories. Those elements had an important impact on nation-making in Bhutan. The policies promoting “Bhutanese traditional culture” also had a major impact on nation-making in Bhutan. The policies intended to introduce the Drukpa Kargyu sect of Mahayana Buddhism, which is dominant in western Bhutan, as representing Bhutanese “national culture.” The government attempted to disseminate “national culture” through school education. Also, laws were stipulated to make it imperative to learn and practice “national culture.” However these laws caused serious conflicts within the nation as they aimed to impose homogeneity upon the diverse people of Bhutan. Another important aspect in Bhutan nation-making is its self-representation as a “nation that loves and conserves its natural environment.” This image was used toward global society as well as domestically. In my dissertation, I will try to clarify Bhutan’s nation-making as seen through the historical change of self-representation.
(3) The main purpose of my present field research was to clarify the historical change in the “system of compulsory labor contribution.” In my field research, firstly, I tried to collect basic knowledge about this labor system. Secondly, I tried to clarify how villagers reacted to this labor system through oral history collected from them. Furthermore, I attempted to determine whether or not those common experiences as labor for the nation-state worked effectively toward creating a sense of solidarity as a nation. My field research was done from 22 July to 18 September. I spent approximately three weeks carrying out research in the central district of Bhutan especially Trongsa and Bumthang. I also spent four weeks conducting research on emigrants from Bhutan to India and Nepal. During this research, I was able to get many valuable oral histories from villagers, officers, former governors and village heads, etc. Through these oral histories, I was able to gather valuable information on the social system, customs of villagers and patriotism of ordinary people.

Sunday, July 22, 2007


Dr. SUBEDI Bhim PrasadCentral Department of Geography,Tribhuvan University, KirtipurKathmandu, NEPALTEL:977 1 331194E-MAIL:


About hundred thousand Bhutanese of Nepalese origin (BONO) are living at even camps in eastern Nepal as refugee since 1991. These refugees are not only confined to UNHCR supported camps, a sizeable numbers are estimated o be living outside. If those scattered in other parts of Nepal and in Northeastern hills of India are taken into account their number counts about 30,000. Both the sending country i.e., Bhutan and the primary host i.e., Nepal are small Himalayan kingdoms in South Asia. Both belong to world's poorest countries, and except for population size and level of urbanization most demographic indicators are comparable. Territorially Bhutan is one-third smaller but her per capita GNP is almost double that of Nepal. The country is settled by three main groups of people namely, Drukpa (the ruling group), Sharchops (early settlers) and Lhotshampas (the southerners, ethnic Nepali). This paper presents the current situation of BONO refugees and analyses the context, which turned these southerners into refugee. It argues hat this refugee problem is closely related to the globalization of human rights.
With emergence of democratic government in the neighbouring countries, rapid increase of Lhotshampas (the southerners, ethnic Nepali) and their request for fair share in the state affairs as part of human rights, the ruling group of Bhutan (i.e., Drukpa) became worried on their established monopoly in the state affairs of Bhutan. This perceived fear among ruling group of southerners in Drukpa's future dominance lead to subsequent reactions, which often violated the human rights of Lhotshampa. Ultimately these reactions turned out to be the main reasons behind BONO refugee problem. The problem is rooted in the history of Bhutan's early settlement and it can be plausibly explained through political demographic perspective.
Refugee problem is not new in Nepal. She faced Tibetan refugee problem in the early 1960s. But the number and the contexts in which Nepal is hosting BONO refugee now are different. The impacts of sheltering refugees have been already evident and have been more negative in southeastern Nepal. Eight ministerial-level talks between Nepal and Bhutan have been held since the problem started but it has thus far left BONO refugees in a state of nowhere. They are actively demonstrating to make their case and their plea to return to their homeland but their repatriation process is becoming more complex with the lapse of time. Without India's positive approach, the problem may prolong rather than having suitable settlement in the near future.

BHUTAN: Right Time to Work out a Durable Solution

BHUTAN: Right Time to Work out a Durable Solution: Update No. 65By Dr. S.Chandrasekharan.Source: SAAAGIt is seen that more and more refugees are being persuaded not to accept third country settlement but to agitate for their return to Bhutan. The hardliners appear to be gaining ground and the moderate voices are being threatened and silenced. It is therefore necessary to review the present situation and make an appeal to the hardliners not to lose the present opportunity to find a durable solution for the crisis that has been lingering on for the past sixteen years.The agitation by the refugee outfits to march to Bhutan through the Mechi bridge has been suspended for another month in view of the Presidential elections in India and India’s promise that it is working on a solution. The real reason for postponement of the agitation is based on the hope that now India is involved, an equitable solution can be found and that there is no need in continuing with the agitation at this point of time.The agitation is spearheaded by a loose coalition that went by the name “ National Front for Democracy” ( NFD) that was supported by the Maoist Group, one faction of the Bhutan People’s Party (BPP), one faction of Bhutan Gorkha Liberation Front ( BGLF), one faction of Druk National Congress (DNC) and also by other radical outfits like Bhutan Tiger Force ( BTF).For the first time, a large number of factions who have had nothing in common so far and whose objectives are as varied from return to homeland, establishment of democracy in Bhutan, to people’s war, have decided to wait and see India’s moves on the refugee question. This is therefore the right time to make quick moves towards a durable solution that would satisfy a majority of the refugees. There is also an urgency to this issue as the western countries who have offered to take the bulk of the refugees will not wait indefinitely when they have already made preliminary moves for settlement in third countries.In this connection some points need to be reiterated-1. The moderate factions in the refugee camps have lost out already and their call for reconciliation with the Bhutan Government has been rejected.2. There is no way physical verification for the purpose of categorisation under four headings is possible in the camps and unruly elements with support from outside will not let any physical verification in the remaining five camps. 3. Any durable solution should find a way out for Bhutan to manage its ethnic population. A figure of 25 percent of non Druk population is being unofficially projected ( i.e. status quo) as manageable, but certainly with some understanding and sympathy a larger percentage should be acceptable.4. Opposition to third country settlement is increasing despite assurances from US Ambassador who visited the camps as well as the efforts of certain well meaning NGOs. A sample survey indicated that a large section of ‘Matwalis” are not keen to go to any western country for settlement.5. It is also said that Bhutan could be persuaded to review its position and take some of those refugees who have come from Chirang and Dagapala and who are perhaps not so politicised as the ones from Samchi.6. Way back in 1989, Bhutan did publish a white paper that said that it had only about 17000 non Bhutanese and that this also happened because of cross marriages besides some labour who stayed beyond the stipulated period.7. Over 80 percent of the refugees in the camps hold citizenship cards and this fact cannot be wished away8. We have time and again pointed out that 1958 should be the ‘cut off ‘ year for identifying Bhutanese from the non Bhutanese. The year of 1958 as the cutoff for citizenship eligibility has also been indirectly accepted in the new constitution.9. Most of the refugees who prefer to go for third country settlement are also keen to keep their option of ‘right to return’, though it is very unlikely that they would do.10. It is still not too late to classify the refugees on the basis of records available with the Bhutan Government with1958 being made the cutoff year. If ethnic management is the problem, then let the Bhutanese authorities choose and make the classification to I, II and III ( category IV is non Bhutanese who do not figure in this issue). It will then be easier for the countries who have offered to take the refugees to choose from categories II & III. Category I may not be acceptable and from the other two, they would prefer category II and perhaps a selected few from category III.11. It will be hard for the refugees from category II who signed the forms pertaining to voluntary renunciation of citizenship under coercion ( Bhutan may not admit it) - but at least they can look forward to a new beginning in their life and it is almost certain that by their hard work and dedication will not only prosper but in course of time support financially others back home. As said before, this is an opportunity to arrive at a durable and satisfactory solution for all the stake holders in the refugee crisis in Bhutan. This will also help in eliminating a potential build up for an insurgency in southern Bhutan. India by its involvement would have redeemed itself for all its past deliberate indifference and Bhutan could also look forward to an ‘irritant free’ future while moving into a democratic mode with elections scheduled in 2008.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Viral fever has gripped all Bhutanese refugee camps

Friday, July 13,2007
KATHMANDU: Viral fever has gripped all seven Bhutanese refugee camps in Jhapa and Morang districts. Hundreds of refugees have fallen ill and treatment of the sick has become difficult as most of them are children and aged people.The number of patients visiting health centres in the camp has gone up suddenly and there are neither enough health workers to attend to the sick nor sufficient medicines, said a health worker at Beldangi-2, Bidur Dagal, adding that at least 100 patients were visiting the health centres every day. The health centres have no other medicine save Cetamol, he said, warning that the situation can get out of hand if arrangements for treatment are not made soon.Due to the spread of viral fever, students from the Beldangi camp are also facing problems. Assistant headmaster of the Marigold School Basudev Adhikari said most of the students fell ill and did not turn up for an examination. The ongoing third-quarterly examination has been affected by the widespread absenteeism, he said.Sixty critically ill persons visited the Damak-based AMDA hospital. Dr Chandra Shah of the hospital said some of the patients were critical. Excessively high fever, vomiting, lack of appetite, severe headache are symptoms of the seasonal disease, he added.A refugee at the Beldangi camp Yadav Neupane accused the authorities of not being serious about the problem. He added that additional health workers were not dispatched to the camps even in such a grave situation.An INGO, AMDA, which has been extending assistance, has urged refugees to take precautions. Chief of the AMDA, Birtamod, Dr Nirmal Rimal, said the number of patients and effect of the disease this year have surpassed all past records. He said that a team of health experts from Kathmandu will visit the camps on Sunday. The team will give its report after a field visit, he added.Jhapa's Khudunabari, Goldhap, Timai and Morang's Shanishchare camps have also been affected, said camp secretary at Khudunabari Manoj Rai. Viral fever grips densely-populated camps every summer.

SSB blueprint to foil refugee entry

Siliguri, July 13: Darjeeling police and Sashastra Seema Bal (SSB) are gearing up to prevent Bhutanese refugees in Nepal from entering India.
A large chunk of the one-lakh refugees based in seven camps in eastern Nepal have set July 15 as the date for the venture.
“According to our information, the refugees plan to attempt an entry on Sunday,” said Rabinjit Singh Nalwa, the inspector general (IG) of police in north Bengal. “We will provide a second line of defence to the SSB guarding the border at Panitanki.”
“We are going to deploy one company of riot control police to cope with the refugees, whom we will not allow to enter India on their way to Bhutan,” he added.
Nalwa recently held a meeting on this issue with Harishchandra Pandey, the deputy inspector-general of the SSB’s Ranidanga sector.
Pandey indicated that special measures have been taken after the May 28 incident in which several policemen and SSB personnel were injured while thwarting attempts by the refugees to enter India.
“Our men are keeping a vigil on the border round the clock. A strategy to abort future attempts to enter the country has also been chalked out,” he added.

Monday, July 9, 2007

America and India want the autocratic Bhutanese regime to continue

Politics and Bhutan's Refugees

Purushottam Subedi (purudai)

The American offer to resettle 60,000 Bhutanese refugees currently living in Nepal is a debatable issue. It is seen as a political step to make it easy to conduct the first national election in 2008 in Bhutan. Refugee leaders say that it is an effort to reduce the voice against the Bhutanese regime.In December, Bhutanese King Jigme Singye Wangchuck announced that Bhutan will hold its first national elections to establish a parliamentary democracy in 2008 and that he will hand over power to his son, Crown Prince Dasho Jigme Khesar Namgyel Wangchuck. But the election declared by the Buddhist ruler will exclude about 110,000(*) Bhutanese Hindu Refugees who were kicked out of Bhutan in 1991 and are living in Nepal.

For 16 years, the refugees have been demanding to return home. When they were exiled from Bhutan, India dropped them in Nepal. Since then India has been saying that it is a bilateral issue between Bhutan and Nepal while Nepal and Bhutanese refugees have asked for India's help to return them to Bhutan. But with the American's taking the refugees in, India has said that it is an international problem. The refugee's leaders said that the change in India's stance is to make way for them to resettle them in third countries. They charge that America wants to make India happy.According to the refugee's leaders, India never wanted to return them to Bhutan. Last month India said that if all the refugees returned to Bhutan it would disturb its population. But veteran Bhutanese leader Teknath Rijal said that was nonsense.Outgoing American ambassador to Nepal James F. Moriarty has said that the offer was based on humanitarian concern for the well-being of the Bhutanese refugees not for political reasons.The Nepalese government discussed the issue in 15 rounds of talks with the Bhutanese government, but without success. Nepal has not been able to clear the path for any refugees to return to Bhutan. The Bhutanese government says most of those who left were illegal immigrants, and that they have been joined in the camps by opportunists from elsewhere falsely claiming to have come from Bhutan, while many others left the country voluntarily.A recent report by South Asians for Human Rights, led by former Indian Prime Minister Inder Kumar Gajurel, claims that Bhutanese refugees are victims of political apathy on the part of the Bhutanese government led by the king, who doesn't consider them Bhutanese nationals, and has already redistributed their land to new owners and is not interested in ensuring their repatriation.The refugee's leaders say Bhutan is as tyranny and that America and India are supporting it.Just this month Bhutan put 37 families in jail, said Rijal. To silence a voice against this kind of activity America wants to take in refugees. This will create a new environment in which Bhutan can exercise its tyranny.Meanwhile, the process of resettling Bhutanese refugees in third countries is going ahead. An outfit called the Bhutan Tigers Force (BTF), said to be active underground in Bhutan, has warned the refugees against going for that option.It is said that Bhutanese foreign policy is guided by India. Critics say that its aim has been to continue the India's monopoly on Bhutanese water resources and its relationship with the king.

Bhutan's Slow Transition to Democracy

July 07, 2007Rahul Bhonsle

Addressing the inaugural meeting of the 87th session of the National Assembly on 7 June, the King of Bhutan said that the historic transition of the country to democracy is something all Bhutanese must take great pride in. The King reminded the Assembly members that this generation in Bhutan's history carried the sacred duty of ensuring the success of the democratic transition and every person must play his or her part in the coming elections. He encouraged all those who had the skills, experience and desire to serve the country as politicians, to come forward. With the start of the political process, Bhutan's 20 dzongkhags and 205 gewogs would be divided into 47 constituencies with many political parties and candidates. But the election process is facing problems driven by lack of adequate awareness of the democratic processes in the people. Thus very few people are reported to have declared their intention to contest in the 2008 elections. As of 15 June, only 13 candidates had planned to contest for the National Council and so far it is largely one candidate a dzongkhag. The National Council will compose of 20 directly elected members and 5 eminent persons appointed by the Druk Gyalpo. For the National Assembly elections, only a dozen possible candidates have declared their interests. Four political parties have been confirmed to run for the elections in 2008, but none of the party has finalized their candidates. Each party would have to look for 47 candidates for the 47 constituencies to the Assembly. As a corollary five serving cabinet ministers are "seriously contemplating" on joining politics but have not identified which party to join, according to the trade and industry minister, Lyonpo Yeshey Zimba. "We have not promised our assurance to any party," said the minister after the Assembly session. This is the mountain kingdoms first elections and there would be a number of candidates who are likely to be elected unopposed. This is the general trend in emerging democracies, when people are not fully aware of the advantages and power of an elected public office. Thus lack of response of candidates to come forward to participate in the elections should not be a major concern. On the flip side is the perceived rise of Communists as media reports indicated ongoing investigations of 13 people who had joined the Communist Party of Bhutan (Marxist-Leninist-Maoist) based in Jhapa, Nepal, by the Royal Bhutan Police in Samtse revealed that they were involved in several subversive activities to start an armed rebellion against the government. Detonators and other materials used for making improvised explosive devices were recovered from the group that the Samtse police apprehended on May 25. The Communist party of Bhutan is alleged to be closely associated with the Maoist Party of Nepal . The Bhutan Tiger Force, which is the militant wing of the Communist Party of Bhutan, was allegedly responsible for planting several explosive devices in Phuentsholing town. Police said that the 13 people would be charged under the Bhutan Penal Code and the National Security Act as per Phuntso Wangdi's report in Kuensel Online. Bhutan has been wary of the activities of communist party cadres which are said to be in league with the Maoists in Nepal. As this is the only direct threat to monarchy in the country, the police are extremely sensitive to any political activity which has a communist overtone and is known to come down with a heavy hand.On the whole however, the enlightened approach of the Bhutanese monarchy to democracy is to be lauded. This will set the course for democratisation of the country smoothly. However the attitude of the government towards minority Nepalis who have been evicted from the country is a matter of concern. At present they are refugees with no government ready to accept them and the offer by the US to absorb has been rejected by the community which feels that it is discriminatory.
Rahul K Bhonsle is a veteran soldier and security analyst based in South Asia, specializing in strategic risk prediction, future warfare and human security. He has a number of publications to his credit and is also Editor of South Asia Security Trends, a monthly trend analyser on South Asia. His web site is and can be contacted at

Friday, July 6, 2007

Bhutanese refugees can seek resident visas in foreign countries

In order to internationalize the Bhutanese refugee problem, which remains as a thorn in the bilateral relations between Nepal and Bhutan for the past 16 years, the government has given the Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal permission to seek resident visas in third countries, Kantipur Daily reports. It has been stated in the decision recently taken by foreign and home ministry that“Bhutanese refugees would be given permission to begin process for resident visas in third countries”. After 15 rounds of talks between Nepal and Bhutan on the fate of Bhutanese refugees living in 7 camps in eastern Nepal failed to bear fruit, the government had extended its support to the refugee rehabilitation process that started 4 years ago. ag July 04 07