Real refugees are defamed, say Bhutan refugee leaders

By Bishnu Prasad Pokharel,Damak, June 17: Bhutanese refugee leaders have expressed their distress over the negative consequences caused by fake refugees, which have deeply wounded their self-esteem. In a recent press conference held at the Bhutanese refugee camp in Beldangi, Jhapa, the leaders shed light on the challenges posed by fake refugee scams and its negative impact on genuine refugees.

Rajman Gurung, a refugee leader and former camp secretary, voiced their repeated pleas to the authorities to take the refugee issue seriously and conduct thorough investigations before issuing identity cards. However, their demands remained unheard.

“On the one hand, the actions of fake refugees have defamed us and on the other hand we are left in dire straits, struggling to meet our basic needs,” lamented Gurung, highlighting the scarcity of food within the camp.

The refugee leaders said that Bhutanese refugees living in the camp were on the brink of engaging in robbery to alleviate their hunger. Furthermore, they called for a resolution to the longstanding problems faced by genuine refugees.

Gurung also criticised donor agencies, including the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), for neglecting their right to sustenance and survival by abandoning the real refugees in the camps.

Expressing their confusion, the leaders questioned why the UNHCR and other donor agencies had left the camp despite the presence of a significant number of refugees still in need of assistance.

Additionally, they drew the government’s attention to the lack of medical treatment for refugees, including elderly individuals. Gurung stressed the importance of the Nepali government addressing these issues, which encompass not only the provision of food but also access to proper medical care.

Sanchahang Subba, the former camp secretary of Beldangi Refugee Camp, revealed that he now earns a living by raising boars. He expressed disappointment over the lack of interest shown by the Nepali government in managing the refugee situation, despite being entrusted with this responsibility by the UNHCR.

Subba further highlighted the predicament faced by children who were born and raised within the refugee camp, emphasising that they were deprived of essential identification documents.

This absence of documentation has resulted in numerous challenges, particularly concerning education-related matters, he added. Subba informed that some children, whose fathers are missing and mothers are Indian, find themselves in dire circumstances.

Expressing his dismay, Subba concluded that while they do not wish to remain as refugees, they feel compelled to do so due to a lack of alternatives. He expressed shame in witnessing individuals outside the camp fraudulently claiming refugee status after paying exorbitant sums of money.The Rising Nepal

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