12000 Bhutanese refugees to be resettled in US and other countries

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Kathmandu, Mar 25 (UNI) Out of 108,000 Bhutanese refugees living in seven camps in Goldhap Refugee Camp of Jhapa in eastern Nepal, 12,000 persons have been referred for resettlement in seven different countries.

The process of interviewing refugees who are interested on the resettlement proposal will continue, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) yesterday said.

The UNHCR has referred slightly more than 11,000 persons for resettlement to the United States of America and approximately 800 persons to Australia, slightly more than 150 to New Zealand, and smaller numbers to Canada, Denmark, the Netherlands and Norway.

''To date, over 2,500 persons have been accepted by the US, which will interview refugees on a regular basis at the International Organisation for Migration (IOM) office in Damak'' the state run media quoted UNHCR officials as saying at a press conference in Jhapa.

UNHCR informed that more than 100 persons have already been accepted by New Zealand. Many refugees have been interviewed by officers from Australia and are in various stages of processing.

Other countries have also accepted smaller numbers - Canada 29, Denmark 13, Netherlands 32 and Norway has accepted 24 persons.

The Nepal government has provided exit permission and travel documents to over 600 persons who would be departing for resettlement.

Fewer than 20 refugees were left for resettlement in 2006 and 2007, according to UNHCR. By March-end 2008, it is anticipated that over 200 persons would have departed to third countries.

''This trend will continue with more departures scheduled for each month. By the end of 2008, IOM anticipates that 1,500 persons will be leaving for third countries each month,'' UNHCR said.

The organisation estimates that by the end of 2008, more than 10,000 persons will be departed for new homes, many of them to the US.

The US has said it will provide at least 60,000 resettlement places but will consider more if there is a need. Australia, Canada, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway are considering providing in total up to 10,000 resettlement places for these refugees over several years.

Canada will begin interviewing refugees later this year and other resettlement countries will also travel to Nepal during 2008 to do the same, UNHCR informed.

UNI XC RJ ND1506

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