Traveling in Asia in the last week, Asst. Sec. of State Ellen Sauerbrey announced that Bhutanese refugees living in United Nations camps in Nepal would soon be resettled in western countries. The United States will take the largest number—60,000. The Nepali-speaking Bhutanese were, according to various reports, driven from their homes by “racist” persecution (not by war).
The process for large scale third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees living in eastern Nepal has begun with the mass information campaign in all the camps, UNHCR today said.
The campaign is aimed at assisting the refugees to make an informed decision by providing them with accurate information, the UN refugee agency said.
This follows the decision of the Nepal government to allow those refugees who wish to opt for third country resettlement as an alternative solution to do so on the basis of an informed choice and acceptance by the resettlement country.
We reported way back in July that many of those living in camps did not want to leave, holding onto hope that they would be allowed to return someday to a country known as the “last Shangri-La”. The mostly Hindu refugees may be in for a real shock when they are resettled in crime-ridden neighborhoods in America.
I guess the United Nations will convince them that working the 12- hour shift at meat-packing plants or mattress factories dispersed throughout America will be better than the wish of many to stay together in Nepal and wait for the easterly wind to bring the smell of their soil.
The first of thousands are expected to arrive here in January 2008.