Nepal: Another refugee dies in police firing; curfew in Beldangi; UNHCR urges restraint

A Bhutanese refugee was killed when police opened fire to control an angry crowd of agitating Bhutanese refugees in Beldangi camp in the eastern district of Jhapa Monday afternoon.

Purna Bahadur Tamang, 20, died when the police opened fire after a clash with the agitating refugees who defied the curfew orders issued by the local administration. Nearly a dozen policemen including DSP Krishna Pathak and half a dozen refugees were injured in the clash, reports said. Police claimed that the refugees fired at them and pelted stones, prompting the retaliatory action.

Situation in Bendangi camp remains tensed with the refugees intensifying their protest against yesterday's police action in which one refugee youth had died.

The local administration in Jhapa clamped indefinite curfew in Beldangi area form 11:00 am today considering the possible violence in the camp.

Narapati Dhungel of sector G, Block 38 was killed and dozens others injured when Armed Police Force personnel opened fire to control a violent crowd of refugees that was trying to attack Hari Adhikari, secretary of the camp management committee at Beldangi-2, for his comments in the media that third-country resettlement was the only choice for refugees.

Meanwhile, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) today expressed concern over the situation in Belgandi camp and called on the refugees to show restraint. Issuing a press statement the UNHCR said that violence broke out between groups of refugees in favour or against third-country resettlement on Sunday and the police intervened in order to curb the escalating violence in the camp.

"The situation continues to be tense in the camp which seems to have spilled over to the other refugee camps in the eastern region," the UNHCR said.

"We are alarmed by this incident and deeply regret the tragic death of a minor despite efforts by the police to quell the unrest in the camp," said Abraham ABRAHAM, UNHCR Representative in Nepa, said, adding, "This is a disturbing state of affairs and I earnestly call upon all refugees and concerned parties to resolve the matter peacefully."

Asking the refugees to abide by the laws of the country, the UN refugee agency said it was closely monitoring the situation and was in close contact with the government authorities at the central and district levels.