Kathmandu: A total of 40,000 Bhutanese
refugees have moved to the West from the camps in Nepal where
they lived after being forced out of their homeland, the
United Nations said on Monday.
The refugees are offered new lives in the United
States and other nations following the failure of years of
negotiations to secure their return to Bhutan, which says they
were illegal immigrants. They insist they were Bhutanese
The refugees are all ethnic Nepalese who fled Bhutan
in the early 1990s, claiming ethnic and political persecution
after Bhutan made national dress compulsory and banned the
"This is a tremendous achievement which would not have
been possible without the strong support of the government of
Nepal and the countries of resettlement," said Stephane
Jaquemet, representative of the UN High Commissioner for
Refugees in Nepal.
Most of the refugees have gone to the United States,
although Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark, the
Netherlands and Britain have also taken some since the UN
scheme begun in 2007.
Another 73,000 remain in the camps, but the UN said
thousands more would move abroad in the coming year.
"I am very happy to get this opportunity," 43-year-old
refugee Dhan Kumar Ghataney, who left for the United States on
Monday with his wife and two children, was quoted as saying in
a UN press release.
"I am optimistic that I will find some job there and
my children will get a better education."