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It is a matter of pleasure to be here to join with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, International Organization for Migration, the colleagues from Bhutan and with the core-group and all of you to mark this very special occasion –departure of the 40,000th Bhutanese refugee from Nepal. I think it is a great day and the weather has cooperated, as well. I know I speak from the fellow core-group members. When I say the US is proud to work with such a tremendous group of partners to provide a durable solution to our refugees from Bhutan.

When we started the program in 2007, there were 109,000 refugees living in camps of Jhapa and Morang. Most of them had to wait over 15 years in camps, but with no hope of returning to Bhutan. While we continued to press the Government of Bhutan to accept back those citizens who wish to return, we also felt it was important to offer another solution to this problem. I know there were many concerns when the resettlement program begun, most not only among the refugees themselves. It is remarkable that in less than three years, after the first departure, we have resettled 40,000 thousands Bhutanese refugees and another 50,000 expressed interest in resettlement.

Three stars of resettlement : From left, chief of IOM at Damak David Derthick, Envoy DeLisi and UNHCR Nepal’s representative Stephane Jaquemet

Today, this is one of the largest resettlement programs in the world and the US is committed to resettle as many refugees as they wish to get resettled. The success of this program is a tribute to all our partners. Both the UNHCR, which is responsible for referring the refugees, and the IOM, which handles the processing of cases, have done exceptional job. As any one who lives in Nepal knows the logistics of moving 40,000 refugees from remote south east corner of this country, first to Kathmandu and to the countries of their resettlement is daunting test, as I believe.

The IOM has more than made this challenge and its operations are the best operations that I have seen in my thirty years diplomatic business. The US has already accepted over 34,000 refugees and I am happy to say that our domestic agencies report that they are doing well. There are certainly challenges as they adapt to a new country, they appear to be making most of the opportunities.

When we are here to celebrate the success of the resettlement program, I also want to note the continued excellence of the programs to support the refugees who do remain. The Government of Nepal and the UNHCR should be proud of running some of the best refugee camps in the world. They do so with exceptional assistance from key partners like the Lutheran World Federation, Caritas and the Association of Medical Doctors for Asia . Thank you everyone for your care for the refugees.

As more refugees continue to be resettled, I look forward to work with the government, UNHCR and all their partners to implement plans for future of the camps and remaining refugees. Finally and perhaps most importantly to the refugees at this center today, the US is proud to welcome you all to our country. As the grand-son of immigrant myself, I know you continue the long tradition of immigration and I know you will make our country better. Many Americans have and will continue to work to make you enter into the US as smoothly as possible. But please let me be the first American to say “Good Luck” and “Welcome” to the United States.

(This is unedited version of a speech delivered by the US Ambassador to Nepal, Scott H. DeLisi, on December 13, 2010 at program organized at the IOM transit camp, Kathmandu to mark resettlement of the 40,000th Bhutanese from camp)


  1. I am glad to read about the interesting speech regarding the resettlement of 40,000th Bhutanese refreshing new life and made new home in various western country. Thanks to the UNHCR , IOM and all key agencies for the ongoing selfless support to the Bhutanese people.

    Rubby Rai
    Tasmania, Australia

  2. It is so heartening to see that the core group of eight countries led by USA that are giving hope to so many Bhutanese refugees. As expressed somewhere else before, it is timely to appreciate UNHCR, IOM, Government of Nepal, Luthern World International, Caritas and the Association of the Medical Doctors of Asia thank all the agencies involved in this process. It had been such a smooth and well-organized transition for this people who had lost hope otherwise. Some of the agencies are also continuing support for those who are still in the camp and may need many more years of settlement. But with the dedication and effort it seems possible and working well.

    Having seen some of the new arrivals settle and change their life gradually I must mention that the agencies would not believe how the refugees where when they left the camps and what they are now in some of these countries. There are challenges and difficulties that they are encountering but overall, you will be pleased to know that there had been complete transformation in their lives. All of them are consistently working to learn the language and eager to settle as soon as it is possible. Words of appreciation are not enough how much it means for these people and like to congratulate all three key players and their organizations that you have demonstrated what human rights protection, promotion and preservation means. It will go in the personal histories of these people and highly commendable commitment.

    As they had done in Bhutan, they would be instrumental in the development of these eight countries.

  3. It is extremely sad to leave our motherland for good. My common sense says; no matter what, we will never get back to it again. Even if the settlements will finish in due course of time and our coming generations fill up the gap – well equipped with the new-found joy and regained respect and entity, the urging love of our motherland will remain with us for a long time. After years of traumata something good is happening to us. Thanks US and the other contributing countries. Special thanks to the Mr. Scott H DeLisi for encouraging us and being a strong staff to this whole process.
    N.B : By the way, the bracketed word in the heading should have been – FROM THE HORSE´S MOUTH. The phrase cannot be changed as it looses its meaning.

  4. Thanks, US and the Core countries for resettlement. Indeed, as is indicated every where, focuss is solely directed on resettlement. The other side of the same pie, “repatriation” remains neglected.

    At this time, mention must also be made of the several thousand others who are still hoping to retun home through a dignified repatriation. Otherwise, they will decay in the camps, waiting and hoping for that day.

    A 100% ‘no repatriation’ will also set a dangerous precedence for regimes to resort to acts of ethnic cleansing whenever they want. I believe, these countries should have a dual role of promoting both resettlement and repatriation with equaland strength.

    Rp Subba

  5. Of course, the voluntary repatriation should not be disregarded. There are thousands of us whose love for the country stands on top of all conciliations and compromises. The process for repatriation for such people should always be prioritised and cannot at any cost be swept under the carpet. Over the years the hopelessness has triggered peoples´ frustrations and many have changed their minds for resettlement. If options were given, I am sure still so many would re-change their minds and many would simply embrace the development. Besides, as Mr RP said no repatriation means a reward to cruel kings and rulers who persecute and hound their own citizens on the ground of being from another ethnicity.

  6. A TRIBUTARY SALUTATION WITH GRATITUDE TO UNHCR and IOM. It is a great pleasure to have seen an active involvement of International Organization of Migration with keen interest and dedication in resettlement of the Bhutanese refugees today.Infact,we are all deeply credited and are grateful to all the individuals associated with UNHCR and IOM working for our abroadal procedure in Nepal.
    Thank you very much for your assistence in providing us a new home,a new status and a new identity respectively
    Gurung Hem.
    Nordreisa, Norway.

  7. My English literary capacity does not suffice me here my vocabulary to express my THANKS to UNHCR,IOM , the core group of countries and in-land agencies who have been resettling and taking due care of us.The only words of thanks I have are;Hey Folks!You gave us our Lost Lives!THanks!Thanks!!and Thanks!!!

  8. I like to thank all the core countries for initiating this resettlement move which is more than a blessing for all of us. We had nothing in the camps except oneself. But after the resettlement we got the lost status, our honors and dignity.In totality, we lost nothing but the refugee tag which was odd at times.

    I am especially overwhelmed to learn the news that US is willing to bring all the Bhutanese refuges from the camps if they wish to come to the United States. I respect and feel proud that US govt. is not letting down any refugees by putting the caps on the numbers.
    At least all can make up their mind to resettle in the US for their futures and the futures of their future generations.

    In this case UNHCR, IOM and Nepal Government deserve round of applause for taking care of the humanitarian issues of the refugees. I thank all the concerned party for their benevolent support and promoting the Humanitarian aspects of the Bhutanese refugees.
    DB Adhikari
    Tucson, Arizona


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