Geneva delegates return


The two-member Bhutanese delegation has returned from the NGO Consultations of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) held from July 11-15 in Geneva.

Member delegates Parsuram Sharma-Luital JP from Australia, and Bishnu Maya Dhungana returned to respective countries on Saturday.

Luitel and Dhungana with Guterres
Luitel and Dhungana with Guterres in Geneva

While in Geneva, Luital and Dhungana called on top UNHCR officials including the High Commissioner António Guterres, and raised various issues related to the Bhutanese refugee imbroglio.

The High Commissioner is learnt to have said that the UNHCR was constantly involved in raising issue of the repatriation of exiled Bhutanese with different issues, and expressed his gratitude towards the refugee resettling countries for granting new lives to thousands of Bhutanese citizens in exile.

“The Bhutanese refugee is one of the major operations of the UNHCR. Negotiations with Bhutan are going on the repatriation,” Guterres said, according to Luital. The High Commissioner also indicated that Bhutan might accept to allow dignified return of some refugees from Nepal as he claimed that UNHCR had been in close contact with the Government of Nepal on the number of issues including their fate after closure of the ongoing third country resettlement program.

“We were given an audience by the High Commissioner. We, indeed, got an opportunity to thank the UNHCR for funding the refugee camps, and granting us an opportunity to be a part of the NGO consultations,” said female delegate Dhungana.

The Bhutanese delegation in NGO consultations
The Bhutanese delegate Dhungana, first from right in middle row, in the UNHCR’s NGO Consultations

The delegates said they raised a number of issues like lack of funds for huts management, cases of family separation, delay in resettlement, problems of youths, women and children, and even issue of corruptions as regards to the resettlement, and camp management.

Luital also presented a DVD of the multicultural festival organised by Bhutanese Organisation in Australia (BOA), which was one of the two best festivals rated by the Victoria Government, to the High Commissioner.

In response, the he lauded that the Bhutanese refugees’ positive story to resettlement was a good story of resettlement, and a lesson for all global resettling refugees.

The Bhutanese delegation also met the Nepalese Ambassador Shaker Biaragi , and discussed a number of issues including the cases of 174 refugees, who have been declared disqualified by the Joint Verification Team (JVT).

The Ambassador assured Luitel and Dhungana of discussing their concerns with the government officials, UNHCR and IOM in his fourth coming meeting.

Luital was a delegate of the  Refugee Council of Australia (RCOA) while the Asia Pacific Refugee Rights Network (APRRN) funded the Dhungana’s trip.