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UN top refugee envoy to visit Nepal

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will arrive in Kathmandu for a first hand assessment of 100,000 Bhutanese refugees.
IANS | By HT Correspondent, Kathmandu
UPDATED ON MAY 18, 2007 05:44 PM IST

After remaining stranded in closed camps in Nepal for nearly two decades, things have finally started moving for over 100,000 Bhutanese refugees with first the US offering to resettle them on American soil, and now UN's top envoy for refugees arriving for a first-hand assessment of their situation.

António Guterres, United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees will arrive in Kathmandu on Tuesday for a three-day mission, his first official visit to Nepal, the UNHCR office in Kathmandu said.

Guterres is scheduled to meet Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala, senior government officials, heads of UN agencies and UNHCR's donors.

He will also visit the Goldhap refugee camp in Jhapa district in eastern Nepal to get a first-hand view of the situation of the refugees and UNHCR operations.

Since their eviction from Bhutan in the 90s, 107,000 Bhutanese of Nepali origin have been living as refugees in Nepal in seven camps administered by the US.

Guterres' visit comes at a time when there is fresh tension in the camps with some groups opposing the US resettlement offer and demanding that the international community redouble pressure on Bhutan to allow them to return home in safety and with dignity.

On May 28, the day Bhutan will hold a mock election, the pro-repatriation group has announced it will lead a march to Bhutan, giving rise to fears of clashes with Indian security forces guarding the bridge that connects Nepal with India, which is the transit country.

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