Batches of Bhutanese refugees arriving in Tennessee

….and elsewhere in the US.

We haven’t written much lately about the Bhutanese refugees who have been flowing into the US in greater numbers these days (lots of previous posts here).   I guess the kinks are being worked out and the spigot is opening wider.   The big hold-up has been the sometimes violent campaign within refugee camps in Nepal by some refugees to stop their fellow Bhutanese from leaving.   Those waging the campaign believe as refugees leave the pressure is off of Bhutan to take them back.

By the way, Bhutan is a Buddhist country and the refugees are primarily ethnic Nepalis and are Hindus.  Bhutan expelled them in a bout of ethnic nationalism. (See Judy’s post of last March on the enduring power of ethnic nationalism.)

Here is an article from the Tennessean about Bhutanese arriving in an already polyglot immigrant community.

The Bhutanese, people from a small Himalayan kingdom that is one of the last theocracies in the world, are the latest wave of resettled refugees in Middle Tennessee.

Seventy-two Bhutan refugees, resettled by local Catholic Charities, started arriving in Nashville over the summer, said resettlement coordinator Nancy Salyer.

Seventy-two is a drop in the bucket.  We have agreed to take 60,000!

Historically, Middle Tennessee has been a resettlement destination for many refugees, including Cubans, Kurds, Sudanese, Somalis and Ethiopians. It started with Cubans in the 1980s and later with the Kurdish who were fleeing Saddam Hussein’s regime in the early 1990s. Now, Nashville boasts the largest Kurdish community in the United States estimated at 14,000.

About 15,000 Bhutanese were admitted this year, according to the State Department and 20,000 more will arrive in the next several years.

The State Department announced in 2007 that the U.S. would admit about 60,000 Bhutanese over several years and resettle them across the nation. Other countries also have volunteered to take the Bhutan refugees, who are ethnic Nepalis and a Hindu minority.

US taking the easy way out?

Six weeks ago I came across this blog entitled “Durable Solution to Bhutanese Refugee Problem”  in which the writer suggests that the US and other western countries, instead of dealing with the government of Bhutan, the land of the Thunder Dragon, and negotiating the return of the expelled Bhutanese, have taken the easy way out by scooping up these refugees and scattering them to the four corners of the world.

Bhutanese refugees have urged their new king to allow them back home. They have asked the Nepalese government for help. But the Maoist-led government is in no position to save the Bhutanese; in fact, it is in no position to save itself. Bitter fighting among various political parties over the issue of integrating former Maoist fighters into the Nepalese Army could very well cause the government’s collapse.

Who is going to stand up and fight for the refugees then? At this time the answer is, sadly, no one. The international community, including the United States, has decided to take the easy route. They have decided to resettle the refugees in a third country. Already, some refugees have been taken in by the United States and Australia, and some will be going to Europe.

In light of the tanking US economy, I’m wondering if this (adding to the impoverished and unemployed) is the easy way out!

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