10 percent likely to remain in camps


If everything goes as projected by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and resettling countries, at least 10.37 percent of exiled Bhutanese are likely to remain in the camps when the ongoing resettlement program ceases by 2015.

Bhutanese refugee camp (Picture courtesy : Prakash Angdambe)

The initial camp population of 113, 486 has come down to 54,652 as 58,834 individuals have left for various western countries by January 19 this year, according to the UNHCR.

In total, 49,396 exiled refugees have left for the US, 4,213 for Canada, 3,217 for Australia, 589 for New Zealand, 612 for Denmark, 372 for Norway, 324 for the Netherlands, and 111 for the United Kingdom.

Of the remaining residents, at least 42,873 individuals have declared an interest in resettlement. Once this figure leaves for resettlement, the camp population will come down to 11,779.


  1. In that figure the unregistered are not counted. Please add another almost 4.000 to the figure. Bringing it to around 14.500. Add the ones living outside the camps and the people who live in exile in India and the real result will probably something in between 25.000 and 30.000. How’s that for “successful” resettlement?


  3. Yes Alice, This is a successful resettlement. Don’t raise suspicious question again. See the broad picture. I can say that at least half of the vulnerable population, children and families are safe and got humanitarian assistance. Resettlement process is not a political agenda successful or unsuccessful? No in the world, refugees’ resettlement is 100%.

  4. Bhuwan or Cousin of Wangchuck dynasty ? Doesn’t make seance what he found suspicious in Alice comments?

    I think ALICE is highlighting the concern about those uncounted and unregistered Bhutanese refugee surviving around in camp and some part of India.

    It doesn’t need to be politics only, every thing is count with success or failure, and same thing applies to re-seattlement too.

    If you not believe it, ask your uncle- JSW.

  5. @Bhuwan. I am not raising suspicion or stating untrue facts. I am merely pointing at the miscalculating of the international community when they only work with the numbers of the UNHCR. Simply because these numbers exclude existing groups. I also point out that resettlement puts a lot of strain on the ones who are resettled. It is not an easy path and stating the whole operation as a success is simply disregarding some of the realities of life for many of the Bhutanese exiles.

    And that resettlement is only there because Bhutan does not allow repatriation is not a suggestive remark, it is an undisputable fact. Don’t forget the international refugee treaty (not signed by Nepal, Bhutan and India) states that resettlement is the last option after repatriation (blocked by the regime in Thimpu) and local integration (blocked by the various Nepal governments in the last 20 years).

    You can dispute whatever you like but you can’t deny historical fact nor international treates and the way the UN follows them. No matter what the effects for the concerned people are…

    If you want to accuse me, do a better job.

  6. I appreciate Alice concern for unregistered Bhutanese people in the camps. What ever the matter be, it is wise enough to raise such hidden sides of resettlement program.
    Once more, Thanks to Alice.

  7. Ideally, resettlement ought to be the last option. Ideally, eviction should not have happened in the first place. Ideally, we Bhutanese would love to see the United States or western powers send their marines into Bhutan and compel the government to repatriate and reinstate all the refugees in their original lands. Ideally, everyone in the world should have enough to eat, enough to live by.

    But as suggested in an earlier post, it is not possible to disregard “some of the realities of life.” The western powers did not owe anything to us – they sustained our lives for two decades. The Nepali government does not owe us anything – it gave us shelter for the last two decades. At times, they worked on our issue while their own country was racing headlong into ruin.

    And all we seem capable of doing is consistently blaming and accusing the Nepali government and the western powers for not doing this or for doing that. Can we for once thank them for doing what little they can to help us get along with our lives? They fed us for two decades, sustained our lives and eventually are now making room for us in their communities, in their societies and welcoming us into their lives. There is something to be said about gratefulness.

    Those of you who think you are the self-reghteous advocate for us, stop blaming and accusing the few allies we have in our struggle. The 10 thousand or so being left behind are those who are not signing up for resettlement. Eventually, something will be done for them as well. You now why? Simply because those who are working to actually solve this crisis have a plan in hand. Just that they are not coming to you personally, great advocate of ours, to share that plan, does not mean they do not have one. BUT, unlike some of you, they will again let the people choose. Critics like Alice here don’t have a clue other than their moral high-horsiness. What did YOU do to change the life of a singe refugee? How many did YOU resettle? How many did YOU repatriate to Bhutan? And how the heck did YOU become an expert on the historical facts of Bhutan all of a sudden? Has it been two years since you started being an “expert” on the refugee issues, professing to know the refugee issue more than the refugee themselves? How do YOU know there are 30,000 unregistered refugees? Have YOU met them? Counted them? How would you know it is not 50,000? Where are they? Spending a few months in the camps and reading a few articles and blogs does not make you an expert. Yeah, I know you did not call yourself an expert, but one can read between the lines.

    So, please get a life and let us, the refugees, take this on. As we have seen in the last two decades, hundreds of people like you have come to “help” us. Some made movies. Some wrote books. Some did research. Some shouted themselves hoarse getting their own names out there. Of all these, the only ones who have made any difference in our lives are those that have been very quietly doing the work that needs to be done – figuring out a solution to the crisis while making sure the refugees had at least a chance at survival. We have had advocates who actually listened to others. Advocates who never thought they were experts. Advocates who never thought they knew everything before they got to the camps. Advocates who did not have pre-concieved notions of what the refugees wanted. Folks like you seem to KNOW what we want, what we deserve. May be we wanted to resettle after 20 years. How do you know we did not? 50,000 of us have already resettled! Did we have a choice? YES – we could stay in the camps, wait to go back to Bhutan, fight against resettlement, disappear into Nepal, or pt to go to the US, Europe or Australia and New Zealand. Looks like more than 90% of us made a choice, doesn’t it?

    Ideal solution – my foot! Just as you said, this is a real world and only real solutions are possible. Repatriation, at this time, is a real solution. We Bhutanese refugees are not simpleton. Thousands of refugees of Nepali origin have come to Nepal and disappeared into Nepali society – from Burma and north-east India. We staked our claims, we suffered our share, we made conscious choices from among the limited ones and we are beginning to build our lives now. We lost our patience to wait for the ideal. If those 10,000 have to continue to live in the camps and the international community departs, the Bhutanese in exile will rise up and find ways to a solution.

    Thanks for your posing as the EXPERT of what we want and what we deserve, but no thanks. I doubt you will consider this a “better job” of accusing you, but let us know. we will keep trying.

    BTW, “untrue facts” is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms. A fact is never untrue. If something is not true, then it is not a fact. Just saying.

  8. MOderator: The second line in the third-last paragraph up there should read “Resettlement, at this time, is a real solution” instead of “Repatriation, at this time, is a real solution.” And the word “simpleton” in the next sentence should be “simpletons.”

    Thank you.

  9. @bhotangay

    I normally feel no reason to defend myself against a rant like yours. This time I think I have every right to do so and I will make it brief and very clear.

    1. I never said I was an expert. Your words, not mine!
    2. I simply write about a realistic view on numbers based on research, interviews and experiences.
    3. I never said I would have the same emotions as any exiled Bhutanese, because I’m not one.
    4. I do advocate a few simple things. Namely the universal human rights. Check UN for that!
    5. I do maintain my position that global geopolitics is the main reason for not putting real pressure on a government that has gone so much astray as the one in Thimpu. That is just a simple political analysis, nothing more, nothing less.
    6. I certainly advocate humanitarian resettlement but I certainly also am willing to see the downside of it and the problems inherent to third country resettlement to other distant cultures.
    7. I see no reason why you should be so hostile as your words seem to display. It’s kind of pathetic.
    8. I stand for my effort in supporting the Bhutanese exiles, wether they are resettled or will stay behind.
    9. I stand to do that for all of them. Not only the ones counted by UNHCR and Nepal Gov’t but also the non registered. Wether you agree with that or not.
    10. I do not challenge the choises made by anyone who resettled or will resettle. I never did and I never will. But I will certainly not advocate resettlement as a 100% good thing. Because it’s not. Doing so would be presumptious.
    11. Yes I make a film and yes I make books. It’s my profession and my passion. I could do that about so many topics, but I took on the case of the unjust Bhutanese exile and the way they / you are treated. I did and do that from all honesty and without any preoccupation. Accusing me of such is simply lame.
    12. I don’t seek approval for or agreement with my opinions, my writings and my films. You don’t need to agree simply because I do not want that. What I do want is to be treated decent as I am treating all Bhutanese exiles with decency. Like one human being to another human being.
    13. And as for nationalities, states and countries. I don’t give a damn. I am human and I am a world citizen, just like everybody else. That is good enough for me to act upon. I am not the kind of person to stay silent. You have no right to silence me and surely you can’t. Ever.

    If you want to attack people, attack your attackers. Not the ones who are out there working for human rights, including yours. Because if you cannot accept the critical note from another human than you do not understand what humanity means. Which is too bad for you.


  10. The remaining would be hightly recommanded to intranationalize becouse there is no queston to be repartation .its just a dream ,but we see wat happen .nothing is impossible .Everybody trying their best .life is straggle but we should keep on going …. resettlement is truely appricated .some adjustment still continue in the camp .we should not forget our rights and responsibility where ever we go .do not worry about the future ,or regrat the past ,be in the present .

  11. @ Bhotangay is not at all from any nationalities but just a fake spy who is so coward like a barking dog which seldom bites. Neither he has decency nor humanity, he is the most cruel creature which can swallow his own siblings or anybody he gets. Such creatures come across in thousands or millions and we need not loose heart or be discouraged with his words of hatred or discouragement. If a human being doesn’t understand how somebody is helping, then he can be counted as an animal or anti social creature which is inhuman and without conscience. Last but not the least, our editor should not accept such article which disregard others positive ideas and sacrifice for the cause of humanity. If this is the forum to quarrel unnecessarily, it needs to stop its business or modify the systems. Once again, we respect good ideas and constructive suggestions but not unnecessary comments that occupy whole space and consume our precious time in reading. Let any comments be so attractive and suggestive to all the valuable readers around the globe!

    Anti- bhotangay
    Long live constructive suggestions!