Saturday, April 16, 2011

Refugees: Nepal, Bhutan agree to resume negotiations on refugees

IRNA - Nepal and Bhutan on Friday agreed to kick-start the stalled negotiations for the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees languishing in camps in eastern Nepal for two decades.

Bhutanese Prime Minister Jigme Y. Thinley, who is on an official visit in Nepal, today met his Nepalese counterpart Jhala Nath Khanal and discussed ways to boost bilateral and regional cooperation.

During the meeting, the two leaders agreed to resume negotiations on the repatriation of Bhutanese refugees.

'Both Nepal and Bhutan have agreed to resume talks,' pti reported quoting Milan Tuladhar, Foreign Affairs adviser to Nepal’s Prime Minister Khanal.

'The date will be decided through diplomatic channels,' he added.

They also discussed bilateral cooperation and issues relating to South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), he said.

The refugees, who are of ethnic Nepalese origin, left Bhutan in the early 1990s amid allegations of persecution by the state on issues of national dress and language. Even as the refugees claim to be Bhutanese citizens, the government in Thimphu describe them as illegal immigrants.

Around 40,000 Bhutan refugees have been shifted to USA and some European countries as per third country resettlement programme coordinated by UN refugee agency UNHCR.
However, over 80,000 refugees are still residing in various camps in eastern Nepal.
Thinley will hold a press conference Saturday before leaving Nepal.