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Program aims to break culture of violence in Nepal refugee camps

Indian Catholic reports on the Jesuit Refugee Service in Nepal, and how JRS stepped in to break a cycle of violence, drug and sexual abuse that had been plaguing thousands of ethnic Nepali youths from Bhutan living in refugee camps in East Nepal.

JRS field director Father PS Amalraj, told UCA News that young people are vital to conditions in the camps. “The power of the youth can either build or destroy the refugee camps. Keeping this in mind, we established one youth friendly center in each camp and we now have 14,000 members,” Father Amalraj said. The YFC initiative consists of education in journalism, television presenting, sports, music and awareness of HIV/AIDS and other social issues.

Bhutanese refugees find their future in Ohio

Jesuit Refugee Service/USA has longed worked with Bhutanese refugees. After being exiled in camps in eastern Nepal for seventeen years, they have been offered the chance of a new life through resettlement. These refugees were expelled from Bhutan in 1992 in a move intended to rid Bhutan of an ethnic minority whom the government viewed as a threat to national unity.The Dayton Daily News reports on Bhutanese refugees beginning a new life in Ohio.

Seven thousand miles from their ancestral home, Bhutanese refugees are tilling the good earth outside of Cleveland and making it bloom. To the astonishment of many, they are using the old ways to gain a fresh start in their new home.

Some see a model that could employ future waves of refugees — or at least other Bhutanese. By getting back to the land, a challenged immigrant group may be getting ahead.

Read the full story here. Learn more about the work of JRS/USA and Bhutanese refugees here.

Repatriation or resettlement for Bhutanese refugees

IRIN reports that over the past year thousands of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal have resettled in third countries – mainly the USA – but many others, especially the elderly, hope only for repatriation to Bhutan.

According to UNHCR, there are close to 95,000 Bhutanese citizens of Nepali origin – also known as ‘Lhotsampas’ – still living in seven refugee camps in southeastern Nepal. Some 70,994 have declared an interest in resettlement.

Read the full story here.

Bhutanese refugees begin new life in Arizona

by Bill Frelick

Ganga Baral is among the first of thousands of Bhutanese refugees who will be arriving in the United States during the next several years. She and her family arrived this Spring in Phoenix from a refugee camp in the farthest eastern reaches of Nepal, a landlocked country known to Americans, if at all, as the location for Mount Everest. Ganga, a 32-year-old mother, has lived most of her life in that camp, a place called Beldangi II. Her child has never known life outside the camp.

Ganga and Khagendra Baral, resettled former refugees from Bhutan. (photo © UNHCR/J. Rae)

Ganga and Khagendra Baral, resettled former refugees from Bhutan. (photo © UNHCR/J. Rae)

I met Ganga in Beldangi II when I was investigating camp conditions for Human Rights Watch last year. Ganga and her friend Pingala ran a center for children, a thatched hut called the Friendship Library, in which they provided toys, books, and activities to stimulate their minds and give an outlet for their curiosity and creativity in what otherwise could be a stagnant and hopeless existence.
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Video: JRS and Bhutanese refugees

Fr. PS Amalraj, S.J., Regional Director of Jesuit Refugee Service – South Asia, discusses the role of JRS in helping to repatriate and resettle tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal, some of whom have been living in refugee camps for 15 years or more.

JRS/USA has been instrumental in making it possible for Bhutanese refugee teenagers to pursue higher secondary education in local schools in Nepal and nearby India; this education will allow them to adjust to a new life more easily when they leave the refugee camps and return home or settle in new countries.