In Search of Policy Options for Transforming Bhutanese Refugee Problem in Nepal

Degree Name

MA in Conflict Transformation

First Advisor

Paula Green


Over 100,000 refugees from Bhutan have been languishing in the UNHCR managed camps in Eastern Nepal since early 1990s. Sixteen rounds of bilateral talks between Bhutan and Nepal yielded no tangible solution. Bhutan has insisted that only a fraction of the total refugee population qualify for Bhutanese citizenship. The documentary evidences with the refugees suggest that the overwhelming majority have origin in Bhutan.

The presence of a large ethnic Nepali population in the eastern Himalayas, the merger of erstwhile Kingdom of Sikkim into the Indian Union and the alleged role of the Nepali community therein, and the growing population of Nepali people in South Bhutan are considered some of the reasons why Bhutan is not willing to repatriate the refugees. India, which enjoys diplomatic advantage in Bhutan, has continued to remain indifferent towards the refugee problem, repeating repeatedly that it is a bilaterally problem to be solved by Bhutan and Nepal only.

This paper attempts to build evidences in support of a comprehensive solution to almost two-decade old refugee problem by examining the policy documents of royal government of Bhutan, talking to civil society and human rights leaders in the region, taking into accounts the goal and aspiration of the refugee leadership and the common refugees. Around five hundred of the refugees are already resettled, beginning in April, 2008.


Peace and Conflict Studies

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