Australia to resettle 5,000 Bhutanese refugees in Nepal

KATHMANDU, Apr 26, 2007 (Xinhua via COMTEX) -- The Australian government will begin resettling a sizable chunk of Bhutanese refugees living in eastern Nepal to Australia within two months.

Australian ambassador to Nepal Graeme Lade on Thursday discussed the Bhutanese refugees' resettlement issue with Nepali Prime Minister Girija Prasad Koirala and said that the resettlement process will begin from July.

The Australian government has expressed its interest to resettle around 5,000 Bhutanese refugees put up at different camps in eastern Nepal.

Stating that Nepal did not have any objections to a third country resettlement of the refugees, Koirala stressed on their respectful repatriation, sources close to the prime minister said.

According to Koirala's advisor on foreign affairs Suresh Chalise, the meeting between the envoy and the prime minister also concentrated on Australian support expansion for the ongoing peace process in Nepal.

Expressing Australian government's support to Nepal peace process, Lade has told Koirala that the Australian government will continue to assist Nepal on hydro-electricity, economic development and industrial investments.

Last October, Ellen Sauerbrey, the United States assistant secretary of state for refugee affairs, had said that the U.S. was prepared to take in up to 60,000 Bhutanese refugees.

Some 105,000 Bhutanese refugees have been living in seven camps in eastern Nepal for the last 16 years.