This site provides complete and authentic information on the origin, causes, and current situation about Bhutanese refugees.

  Refugee Situation

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The Current Refugee Situation

Ever since the movement for human rights against the abuses of human rights, arbitrary de-nationalization of Nepali-speaking southern Bhutanese citizens ( called Lhotshampa),  denial of their children’s admission to schools, denial of cultural and linguistic rights and forced imposition of ruling Ngalung community's culture and language on the rest of population,  was launched in the kingdom of Bhutan in 1990demanding the replacement of the current party-less and despotic rule by a democratic set-up, with the constitutional guarantee of human rights and rule of law, more than 125,000 Bhutanese people, Bhutanese people, nearly a sixth of the kingdom's total population of approximately 767,548 have been forced to leave or forcibly evicted from the country by the Government. This has made Bhutan as one of the highest per capita refugee generators in the world.

 Bhutanese who fled  Bhutan in the wake of the abuses of their rights human early 1991 first arrived in West Bengal and Assam states of  India. They lived there for some months with out any relief assistance, hoping for the Royal Government of Bhutan’s initiatives in resolving their problems. However, no  positive initiatives on sight, a group of Bhutanese entered into Nepal. With the help of local leaders, they established camps in the banks of Mai river in Jhapa in eastern Nepal.  Thus the first camp was established for a group of 235 refugees. Thereafter on the request of Nepalese government, the UNHCR office in Kathmandu got involved in the management of refugee camps.  

The camps are managed by the UNHCR. The Nepalese government has established a Refugee Coordination Unit (RCU) under Home Ministry. The RCU looks after the administrative and law and order provisions related to refugee camps. As on September 2001, approximately  98,886 Bhutanese refugees were living in seven refugee camps in eastern Nepal managed by the UNHCR. Around 5,000 are living outside of camps in Nepal and another 20,000 are living in Indian territories with out any help. 

There are a total of 98,886 Bhutanese refugees in the following refugee camps in the districts of Jhapa and Morang in eastern Nepal as on  September 2001:

Name of camps


Beldangi I, II & III Camps


Goldap camp


Timai Camp


Khudunabari Camp


Pathari camp




Number of Refugee Families

There are about 15,032 refugee families in all camps.

Name of camps


Beldangi I, II & III Camps

7,629 families

Goldap camp

1,377 families

Timai Camp

1,349 families

Khudunabari Camp

1,963 families

Pathari camp

2,714 families

(statistics as on November, 2000 - Kathmandu Post, 22 March, 2001)

The percentage and name of origin districts of refugees in Bhutan


Percentage (%)





Samdrup Jonkhar







While refugees from such countries as Somalia, Afghanistan, Sudan and former Yugoslavia were victims of armed conflicts or civil war, refugees from Bhutan were forced to leave their country not because of civil war or foreign intervention but because of the racist and ethnocentric policies and feelings of the Government against the Nepali-speaking citizens of southern Bhutan, called Lhotshampas. They have become  victims of the government’s racist and  'ethnic cleansing policy".


Bhutanese security forces resorted to such inhuman  tactics as torture, killing in custody torture, indiscriminate arrests, loot, rape, plunder and burning of the houses of southern Bhutanese finally compelling them to leave their home in Bhutan. The government of Bhutan had confiscated citizenship and property documents and also forced many of the Nepali-speaking Lhotshampas to sign papers renouncing Bhutanese citizenship.


Continued : Please click on Nepal-Bhutan talks for continuity of the events

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