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UN: 40,000 Bhutanese Refugees Moved From Nepal


Bhutanese refugees wait to leave for resettlement abroad at a transit facility of International Organization for Migration in Katmandu, Nepal, Monday, Dec. 13, 2010. A 3-year-old program to resettle ethnic Nepalese forced out of Bhutan in the early 1990s

The United Nations says a total of 40,000 ethnic Nepalis who fled Bhutan for Nepal have been resettled in Western nations.

The refugees have been resettled mostly in the United States, while others have moved to Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Denmark and the Netherlands.

Stephane Jaquemet, a representative with the U.N. refugee agency in Nepal, described it as a tremendous achievement that would not have been possible without the strong support of the government of Nepal and the countries of resettlement.

The refugees are among the more than 100,000 ethnic Nepalis, mostly Hindus, who were forced out of Bhutan in the early 1990s, after authorities imposed reforms promoting Bhutanese Buddhist culture, and banning the Nepalese language.

Bhutan has long denied the Nepalis left under duress, saying most left voluntarily.

The U.N. says another 72,000 refugees remain in the camps. It says about 55,000 refugees have applied for the resettlement program and are expected to be moved within the next four years.

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