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Trump affects Bhutanese refugees

Wednesday, February 1st, 2017
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Kali Maya Magar faces uncertain future in the Beldangi camp in eastern Nepal. Pic: Gopal Gartaula

Kali Maya Magar, one of the few thousand of the 120,000 Bhutanese refugees remaining in camps in Nepal, was to fly to Kathmandu on Tuesday morning to board a flight to the United States under a multinational resettlement program.

Magar’s six-member family were forced out of Bhutan in the early 1990s because they were Nepali-speakers, and spent the last 25 years in a refugee camp in Jhapa. They were to go to an International Oraganisation Migration (IOM) transit home in Kathmandu before flying out to Vermont.

Magar only found out this week that her trip has been canceled because the third-country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees has been put on hold indefinitely a few days after US President Donald Trump issued a new immigration policy.

“We are all worried now,” says Magar, whose married children have already been resettled in various cities in the US.

In a notice pasted on the office of the Beldangi-based Resettlement Help Centre, the IOM has not specified why the resettlement process has been suspended. It just says it is discontinued until further notice.

More than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees have already been resettled abroad in the last 10 years. Some 92,000 have gone to the US, while others have gone to Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Norway and Canada.

Another 16,000 refugees are still in eastern Nepal, and international humanitarian agencies have cut down on food support for them as the number of refugee camps goes down from 7 to 2.

Gopal Gartaula

Read also:

Little Bhutan

The 100,000th refugees 

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