Nepal and UN agency start joint census of more than 100,000 long-term refugees
The United Nations refugee agency and the Nepalese Government have begun taking a census of an estimated 106,000 refugees in the country’s east, most Bhutanese and living there for more than a decade, in a joint exercise to obtain better information and to streamline assistance services.
Abraham Abraham, UN High Commissioner for Refugees representative in Nepal, said yesterday that the census will help the UNHCR and the Government “to provide better protection, security and support to the refugees on the basis of improved documentation on ‘who is who’ and ‘who is where’.”
Mr. Abraham added: “The importance of this census is that the data collected will be used to establish individual profiles for improved planning, delivery and monitoring of assistance and also to identify and document particular needs of individual refugees.”
The census will be conducted across seven camps, starting in Jhapa district’s Beldangi I camp, over the next few months, according to UNHCR.
Most of the refugees are from Bhutan and arrived in eastern Nepal more than 16 years ago, lacking much formal documentation. Under the census any existing information will be validated, cross-checked, updated and recorded in a new database, and refugees will have their photographs taken for identity cards.
Last month the United States announced it was willing to accept up to 60,000 of the refugees, and Canada and Australia have also shown interest. UNHCR said these offers could help to break the deadlock on finding a long-term solution for the refugees.