Over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees are lucky enough to be nurtured by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees and its dozen more implementing partners. Indeed, for them it’s a blessing to survive for more than two decades under their aegis. Earlier, these refugees were given responsible posts in managing various refugee projects. Now, with the advent of third country resettlement program, other remaining potential refugees are not given posts pertaining to the management. The aid-agencies have their own reservations towards this.
It is an undeniable fact that refugees are stateless whose basic rights are legally denied, financially crippled and are the victims of policies made by the authority for the welfare of the targeted people. In some instances, they are even deprived of incentives, salary or bonus and other allowances thereby ignoring that fact that their work-loads exceed the salary drawers, in spite of their efficiency and competency. They are simply motivated with inspiring words – selfless volunteer service but their economic stage of life keeps on deteriorating. This is a bitter reality in all senses.
In the camps, there should be wage for loading and unloading rations, vegetables and other items so that it would be justifiable. Fairness, trust and accountability upon the refugees are of far cry. In some ways refugees are the means of earning tools that’s why there lacks transparency and trust. And, even the laymen have understood this very well.
I am sure a few examples that I have cited here explicitly explain my claim. Buddhi Man Ghale of Khudunabari camp was brutally beaten by the Armed Police Force personnel in the pretext of not informing them of their get-together organized in his pre-medical day. The very next day, he was to depart from the camp to Kathmandu-based transit center of the International Organization for Migration. But, he chose to remain silent. Even, there was no one to listen at his grievances. He thought his right decision was to escape from such environment. APF even threatened him to put impediment to resettlement even at Kathmandu accusing him of organizing such a party. This shows that poor refugees like Ghale have no other alternative than to suppress their agonies and get harassed.
Several in the camp shed tears when they became eyewitness of that incident. In their observations, a few people, who were were financially sound, tried inviting such police officials in similar get-together.
The next are frequent cases of broad daylight looting at the the Chandragadhi Airport. According to resettled Bhutanese refugees, police randomly checked the pockets and alleged them of carrying Nepalese currency. The first case that came into notice was forceful seizing of NRs 10,000 carried by one Jit Bahadur Bhattarai at the airport. There are unverified rumors that police at the checkpoint even put bullet in between two fingers and dropped into the refugees’ pocket without their notice, and later threatened to stop them from boarding the plane if the earned money with sweat is not given to them. But, the foul smell never confines to a limited room all the time. Dystopian drama never stands before truth and divinity. Two policemen have been arrested on the ground of looting refugees a few months before. The Zonal Police Office of Mechi Zone was compelled to return the cash looted from resettling refugees to their families following mounting pressures from the community and media.
Some people in the camp grumbled while submitting application for ration transfer and birth registrations when they were asked a handsome cash by the camp authority. Indeed, the resettlement has invited many unwanted things in the camps. Almost everybody knows what is going on in the camps. But, unfortunately all of them are silent. Even simple administrative works cost for refugees, in actuality, these days. And, the process has become more simple when our own people act to bridge refugees and such authorities.
From all these observations, even a layman can analyze that the refugees are mere puppets, milky cows and cheaper donkeys. They are compelled to satisfy with the empty assurances and no words are heard seriously and empathically. This also implies that the ongoing masochism will last long as the resettlement program continues. And, the concerned authority needs to be serious towards preventing such kinds of environment immediately. Let, the refugees feel that they are not exploited in the name of assisting them. Humanitarian assistance should be purely humanitarian !