Kathmandu, Nov 6 (UNI) The process for third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees in eastern Nepal camps began here today.
The resettlement process started with a mass information campaign in all the camps to assist refugees to make an informed decision by providing them with accurate information.
According to a press release by United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today, ''UNHCR prefers to help refugees go back to their home countries when they can do so in safety and dignity, however, in this case, the only option currently available is that for resettlement in a third country for those refugees who wish to make this choice,'' said Abraham Abraham, UNHCR Representative in Nepal.
''Resettlement to a third country does not in any way preclude the right of refugees to return to Bhutan,'' he emphasised.
''We urge refugees and refugee leaders to respect the right of every individual to make informed choices and take decisions regarding his or her own future,'' Kantipur quoted him as saying.
The UN refugee agency together with the international community will continue its efforts to ensure that as many doors as possible are opened in terms of achieving lasting solutions to the plight of the refugees, including voluntary repatriation as and when return conditions permit, the statement added.
The US had announced to resettle 60,000 refugees in its country while Australia, Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands, New Zealand and Norway had also expressed their desire to take their share in the resettlement of refugees.
''We are profoundly grateful to the Government of USA and to all the other resettlement recipient countries as well as to the Government of Nepal for supporting third country resettlement as a humanitarian solution,'' added Mr Abraham.
Refugees whould leave in batches to their new homes in third countries, and the first batch is expected to leave by January 2008.
The statement said that refugees cannot choose the resettlement country.
Recently, US Assistant Secretary for Population, Refugees and Migration Ellen Sauerbrey visited Nepal on her 12-day visit to South Asia for the re-settlement of some 60,000 out of over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees who are languishing in different camps in eastern Nepal since 1990.