Lesson! When the Department of State welcomes an ethnic group to America expect the resettlement to be larger and longer than they initially said it would be.
We have followed the process of cleaning out UNHCR camps in Nepal of Bhutanese refugees ever since the Bush Administration said: ‘come on in’ we well take 60,000. This resettlement was planned to last for five years (as we now approach ten!). I suspect it was UNHCR Antonio Guterres (now Secretary General of the UN) who talked the Bush State Department in to this!
***Update*** More news here: UN says the movement of over 100,000 third worlders to first world countries was a great success.
The so-called “Bhutanese” are people of Nepali ethnicity that were pushed out of Bhutan when the Bhutanese government basically said, we want Bhutan for Bhutanese and you Nepali people who have moved in here for decades need to leave. To learn more about what happened, check out wikipedia, here.
When we began posting on this group of mostly Hindu people back in 2007, most did not want to be resettled anywhere but back in Bhutan. And, obviously Nepal wasn’t welcoming their kinsmen home.
So, how did this become our problem?
Why did the US decide to resettle tens of thousands and scatter them around America? Frankly, with our economic muscle certainly we could have prevailed on either Bhutan or Nepal to work this out! Or, did we simply acquiesce to pressure from the United Nations? And, was the refugee industry looking for more paying clients and big business looking for cheap labor?
So here we are almost ten years in. We said we would resettle 60,000 and so I checked Wrapsnet.org (2007 to December 15, 2016) to see exactly how many we have taken since 2007. The answer is 91,713! But according to this article in the Katmandu Post we will be closing the program in 2017 (I guess to make more room for the Muslim Syrians, Iraqis and Somalis).
For ambitious readers, visit our archive on the Bhutanese by clicking here. Some have done well in America, but for years they had an extremely high suicide rate that worried the resettlement industry. One of many morals to this story is that when the US State Department gives you a number that will be resettled, expect the resettlement to be much larger and much longer than they said it would be!
Many forced to choose resettlement against their will!
Here is the story from before Christmas from the Katmandu Post (notice that many are still holding out hope that they will go home to Bhutan):
Dec 15, 2016- More than 100,000 Bhutanese refugees have been resettled in various countries under the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugee (UNHCR) third country resettlement programme. But some the remaining refugees in eastern Tarai are still putting their feet down for repatriation.
Around 2,000 of the remaining 11,000 refugees, put up at various camps in Jhapa and Morang, are refusing the third country resettlement and willing to return their own homeland in Bhutan, according to a source at the UNHCR. The repatriation campaign has come closer to end after the UN body’s resettlement programme. The repatriation campaign has been weakened as the leaders spearheading repatriation themselves opted for third country resettlement. And the majority of the remaining refugees are also in resettlement process, giving up hope of repatriation.
Bhampa Rai, Balaram Poudel, among other refugee leaders, are still campaigning for repatriation, though. They blamed the government of Nepal for its failure to take any initiatives for their cause. “Nepal could neither convince Bhutan to take back refugees nor pressure the international community over the issue,” said Rai, claiming that hundreds of refugees had been forced to choose third country resettlement against their will.
According to the UNHCR, 107,000 refugees are already resettled in various host countries, including the US, Australia and Canada. Another batch of around 9,000 refugees are in the process of resettlement, officials at the UNHCR said.
The UNHCR’s third country resettlement programme will come to an end in 2017.
So where are they in America? (Or, at least where were they originally resettled). Map is from Wrapsnet.org.
Here are the top ten states where the Bhutanese were resettled:
One of the things I’ve always wondered about is this: The UN was so anxious to close these camps (to deny these people a ‘right of return’) while they never had any interest in resettling the Palestinians around the Arab world, but has kept the Palestinian camps (really cities) open for over 60 years. I’m actually not wondering. I really do know the answer! It was (and is) to keep a thorn in Israel’s side.