A Women's Commission delegation recently visited Nepal, where we looked at economic opportunities for Bhutanese refugees and Nepalis who have returned home after being displaced by civil conflict. Read more on this issue
Photo by Dale Buscher/Women's Commission
Nepal is one of the poorest nations in the world and has a history of political instability. In November 2006, Nepalís royalist government and Maoist rebels signed a historic peace accord, ending a 10-year civil war that displaced upwards of 250,000 people, especially in the midwest region of the country. The Nepalese that were displaced by this conflict are now returning home. However, frequent bombings, general strikes and upcoming elections in April indicate more volatility ahead for the Himalayan nation.
Settled in southeast Nepal in seven camps, 108,000 refugees from neighboring Bhutan face deteriorating conditions and rising tensions. In the late 1980s, the Bhutanese government began a systematic campaign to deny ethnic Nepali Hindus human rights, citizenship and their land. Expelled from Bhutan 17 years ago, Bhutanese refugees are not allowed to work or move freely and have few options for a better life for themselves and their families.
Only recently has resettlement to a third country presented itself as an option. The Bhutanese refugees have been banned from returning to Bhutan and not allowed to integrate into Nepal. The United States will accept up to 60,000 Bhutanese refugees for resettlement within the next five years, with Australia, Canada and New Zealand also offering resettlement options.
Women irrigate plots of land using the treadle pump, saving time and increasing productivity. Photo above by Dale Buscher/Women's Commission. Photo top right by Lauren Heller/Women's Commission.
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