Bhutanese refugees who have been living in Nepal for nearly two decades have requested the government of Nepal to help them go back home.

They have requested Prime Minister Madhav Kumar Nepal to involve India in starting the process of repatriation. “We have requested the P.M. to talk to India about us,” Balaram Paudel, President of the Bhutan’s People’s Party, told The Hindu adding, “We want to go back home.”

The refugees are those who were branded as anti-nationals and chased away by the Bhutanese army for holding protests in the late 1980s and early 1990s demanding multi-party democracy at a time when Bhutan was under absolute monarchy. They took refuge in Nepal and India. The Nepal government recognised them as refugees in 1991.

The governments of Nepal and Bhutan have, in the past, held several talks at various levels regarding the Bhutanese refugees. When the former Prime Minister, Pushapa Kamal Dahal “Prachanda”, met the Bhutanese Prime Minister in New York last year, the latter had assured him that the issue could be solved together. But nothing happened.

Though a Third Country Resettlement (TCR) programme launched by the International Organisation for Migration has helped more than 17,000 of the 1,08,000 refugees to migrate to countries like the U.S. and New Zealand, Mr. Paudel says majority of the refugees want to go back to Bhutan.

The policies and programmes of the CPN(UML)-led government highlight the need to send back Bhutanese refugees. The previous Maoists-led government had also assured them of repatriation.

“Until and unless India is involved in the discussions, our problems would remain as they are,” reads a memorandum recently handed over to Mr. Nepal by leaders of the Bhutanese refugees. “We hope you would help solve our problems by diplomatic dealing in your upcoming visit to India,” it further read.

The Prime Minister assured them of requesting India to help address their woes and to repatriate them, said Mr. Paudel.

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