The Nepalese Ministry of Home Affairs said it distributed 1800 refugee identity cards to Bhutanese asylum seekers by granting them official refugee status in Nepal, but has left 174 asylees at limbo.
The distribution of ID cards have been materialized based on recommendations of a three-member taskforce that the ministry had formed earlier this year under the chairmanship of by one of its under Secretaries Shambhu Prasad Ghimire.
The taskforce invited applications from all asylum seekers who were either absent during official registration during 2006 or disqualified on various ground, and interviewed some 2106 individuals in between June and July this year.
Of them, 174 persons have been termed ‘disqualified’, while another 132 didn’t turn up for the interview.
Those who have been termed disqualified by the taskforce accused the authority of granting refugee status to even non-Bhutanese.
These asylees have formed a group to protest against the government’s decision to disqualify them without proper explanations on their cases.
On Thursday, the group led by Purna Gautam officially wrote to Shanker Prasad Koirala, the In-Charge at the National Unit for Coordination of Refugee Affairs (NUCRA) at the Ministry of Home Affairs.
The letter demanded review of their cases, and asked the authority to figure out the taskforce’s lapses in granting refugee status to some non-Bhutanese.
The asylees said their sentiments have been deeply ignored by the government as it failed to recognize their refugee status, thereby ignoring the fact that those termed ‘disqualified’ are genuine Bhutanese and have long been dwelling in the refugee camps.
According to them, even persons belonging to the same family have been denied refugee status while remaining family members enjoy the same status.
Meanwhile, the district authority of Jhapa said the government has closed all doors for registering cases of asylum seekers from Bhutan.