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Fifth nat’l OBCA convention concludes, UNHCR participates

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The fifth national convention of the Organization of Bhutanese Communities in America (OBCA) concluded in Fort Worth, Texas on June 14 by forming the new Executive Committee headed by DB Rai for two-year term.

According to a press statement issued by Karna Gurung, press and publicity coordinator of the organization, representatives from 15 different States participated in the three-day convention. Craig Sanders, the UNHCR Representative in Nepal, Deep Raj Uprety, Senior External Relations Associate, UNHCR Sub-Office Damak and Dr. Shaligram Bhattarai, Program Coordinator from the Transcultural Psychosocial Organization, Nepal also participated in the convention.

Responding to a BNS query, newly elected chairperson said that OBCA would establish itself as a self-sufficient entity in five years from now.

DB Rai handing letter of appreciation to Craig Sanders, UNHCR representative in Nepal. Photo/Danzome Sampang.
DB Rai handing letter of appreciation to Craig Sanders, UNHCR representative in Nepal. Photo courtesy/Padam Bharati.

“The OBCA will work continuously in betterment of the Bhutanese communities in the United States creating the network, identifying the resources for refugees by partnering with the local organizations,” said Rai, adding – “OBCA is ready to work together with other Bhutanese organizations in the United States.”

The statement also quoted Sanders as saying, “More than 96 thousand of refugees have already started their new lives in eight different resettlement countries, with majority of 82 thousand refugees in USA.”

According to Sanders, UNHCR is expecting that the resettlement process is coming to an end by mid-2017 and around 12-13,000 refugees will remain in the camps waiting for other durable solutions.

“These remaining populations will be more vulnerable. The UNHCR is looking forward to opt a unique way to provide the humanitarian assistance to these population in the camps”, said Sanders, “Time has now come to work together with the resettled refugees to give solidarity and establish the support mechanisms to the remaining population in the camps as the UNHCR is globally facing financial constraints.”

According to the statement, Sanders also appreciated the efforts and the solidarity that has existed among the Bhutanese communities in the United States.

“The primary purpose of UNHCR is to see how Bhutanese community in US is doing, to let these people know the ongoing situation in the camps, and see the possibility of making a systematic communication channel between resettled refugee and remaining refugee in the camps back by UNHCR,” said Uprety while responding to a BNS query.

During the convention, Chairperson Rai handed over the appreciation letter to the UNHCR officials for supporting Bhutanese refugees for more than two decades and providing the third country resettlement opportunity for over 96 thousand refugees.

Meantime, the delegates updated activities from respective States in two years since the fourth convention in 2013. Various artists from different States also performed numerous cultural activities, dance, song, and poetry recitation in the program.

Parangkush Subedi shared the status of the mental and psychosocial health activities for the resettled refugees in America.

The UNHCR officials also screened the video messages from remaining refugee in the camps along with photos. In response, OBCA also presented the success stories of the resettled refugees in the United States, and later DJ Khaling, former Chairperson of the organization handed over the copy of the video to the UNHCR country representative, Sanders.

Other newly formed executive committees included Dillip Dahal – Vice-chairperson, Padam Bharati – Secretary, Aita Rai – Treasurer, Karna Gurung – Press & Publicity, Deepak Gajmeer – Cultural Secretary, Jitu Basnet – Sports & Youths.

Parangkush Subedi and BM Khaling served as election commissioner.

According to the statement, the first meeting of the executive committee will fill the other officer bearers.

Bhutanese Legacy Youth Club (BLYC) hosted the convention with help from other organizations, including the Beginners Community Support Groups (BCSC), Bhutanese American Sport Council (BASC), Bhutanese American Association of Houston (BAAH) Bhutanese Community of Abilene (BCA), Global Bhutanese Literary Organization (GBLO), and Bhutanese Creative Connection (BCC). The convention concluded with the screening of the movie, “Suruwat”, produced by OBCA.

OBCA was formed in Georgia, Atlanta in 2010 with the motive of supporting and settling the new arriving Bhutanese refugee in the United States.

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