Old Hopes and New Dreams: Bhutanese Refugees Ponder the Challenge of Resettlement
The Refugee Voice
Jesuit Refugee Service
The Refugee Voice v.2 n.2, 2008, 4 pages
Summarizes the political and emotional issues involved in the resettlement of 107,000 Bhutanese citizens living in United Nations refugee camps in Nepal. This group, an ethnic minority expelled by the Bhutanese government in the early 1990s, must decide whether to accept resettlement in the United States, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Denmark, Norway, or the Netherlands. The decision is difficult because some refugees actively seek repatriation and spread inaccurate information regarding resettlement in order to achieve their political goals. They also worry about employment opportunities, their ability to care for large, multi-generational families, places to practice their Hindu or Buddhist faith, and ability to continue Bhutanese cultural practices such as cremation of the dead. The refugee camps are largely self-sustaining with many Bhutanese women overseeing camp operations of food distribution and administration. Education is highly valued and the relief group, Jesuit Refugee Service, provides lessons in English and Nepali through at least the tenth grade. Many adults have a working knowledge of English, a valuable skill for resettlement. Other recommendations to ease resettlement include increased access to medical treatment and identification of torture survivors in order to facilitate appropriate support services in their host country.