15000 Bhutanese refugees to reach US by next year: Official

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Kathmandu, Nov 3 (UNI) US Under Secretary of Refugees, Population and Migration Ellen Saurbrey has said that some 15,000 Bhutanese refugees living in Nepal will be landing in the US by next year.

Addressing the refugees languishing in various UN sponsored camps in eastern Nepal, she said "no one would lead a life of refugee upon arrival in the US." Saurbrey, who is on a visit of Nepal, said around 50,000 refugees from 70 countries were already resettled there.

She called on Bhutanese refugees to take advantage of the US resettlement proposal.

"We have offered you an opportunity. It is up to you to accept it or not" adding, "The process of resettlement might go on for a long time." The US is in favour of refugees' repatriation. It is every refugee's wish all over the world to return to his home, but the US came in with the resettlement offer as the issue was tangled for a long time, she is quoted as saying in the English langauge daily newspaper.

I will visit Bhutan to press for refugees' repatriation after Nepal, she said.

"I will also call on India for cooperation in this regard as India has influence over Bhutan." Representative of the UN High Commission for Refugees in Nepal, Abraham Abraham, "We also respect refugees' wish and right to choose the opportunity".

More than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees of Nepalese origin have been languishing in eastern Nepal for over 15 years when they were forced out to leave the country.

Nepal and Bhutan have held of series of talks to resolve the problem, however, Bhutan has not accepted the return of the refugees.

Nepalese civil society and human rights organisations want the involvement of India to resovle the issue, however, India has been saying that this is a bilateral issue between Nepal and Bhutan and should be resolved bilaterally.

UNI

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