KATHMANDU: Minister for Foreign Affairs Madhav Prasad Ghimire has said that that lasting solution to the problem of Bhutanese refugees lies in the voluntary and safe repatriation of the refugees to their homeland with dignity and honor.
The Minister made this recommendation during his meeting with United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres in Geneva today. Ghimire also made it clear that Nepal has always respected the rights of refugees on humanitarian grounds.
The Minister, who is in Geneva in course of attending High-Level Segment of the Substantive Session of the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations (ECOSOC), reiterated Nepal’s commitment to finding a solution to the problem.
A press statement issued by Nepal´s Permanent Mission in Geneva said that Minister Ghimire appreciated the role played by the UNHCR in providing the upkeep and maintenance of the Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.
“Reiterating Nepal’s commitment to finding a solution to the problem, the Minister underlined that lasting solution lies in the voluntary and safe repatriation of the refugees to their homeland with dignity and honour. He reiterated that Nepal has always respected the rights of refugees on humanitarian grounds,” the statement added.
While expressing thanks to Nepal for generously hosting a large number of refugees for a long period of time, the High Commissioner for Refugees appreciated the cooperation of the Government of Nepal in finding durable solution to the problem. He also concurred that voluntary repatriation is the best solution.
Over 100 thousand Bhutanese of Nepalese origin were forced to leave Bhutan following ethnic cleansing in Bhutan during early 1990s. The refugees languished in UNHCR administered camps of Eastern Nepal for over two decades before the large scale resettlement project started in 2007. Over 80 thousand refugees have left for eight different countries under third country resettlement program. Some refugees staying in the camps of Eastern Nepal have been expressing dissatisfaction over the third country resettlement program and expressing their interest to return back to their country but Bhutan has been refusing to repatriate a single refugee.
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