Britain opens Nepal office to help Gurkha migration

October 5th, 2009 - 8:30 pm ICT by IANS  

Gordon Brown Kathmandu, Oct 5 (IANS) The British government took a step Monday to ease the future exodus of retired Gurkha soldiers from Nepal to Britain along with their dependants by opening an office in Kathmandu valley.
The British Embassy in Kathmandu announced the opening of a Gurkha Settlement Office (GSO) that will help British Gurkha ex-servicemen seeking to live in Britain by providing the essential information they need before deciding whether to make the move as well as answer questions on life in the country and the support arrangements that would be available once they are there.

Inaugurated in the premises of the British Gurkhas Nepal camp in Man Bhawan, Jawalakhel, the GSO will also provide guidance on the visa application process free of charge.

Welcoming the move, Major (retired) Bhim Bahadur Gurung, chairman of Regimental Associations Nepal, said: “It means that ex-Gurkhas and their families can get the advice and support they need, at no cost, and make important and informed decisions about their future.”

Nepali soldiers, who had served in the Gurkha Brigades of the British Army, had been fighting a legal battle for the right to make Britain their home after retirement. In the past, the right was given only to those who retired after July 1997, when the base of the British Gurkhas shifted to Britain from Hong Kong, which was handed over to China.

However, a dogged campaign by the Kathmandu-based Gurkha Army Ex-Servicemen’s Organisation to get the resettlement right for those who had retired before 1997 received immense public and media support in Britain when it was also taken up by British television actress Joanna Lumley. Lumley’s father had also served with the British Gurkhas.

The high-profile campaign led to Prime Minister Gordon Brown being outvoted on the issue by British MPs and subsequently, in May, the home secretary announced that the government would also consider the applications of soldiers who had retired before 1997.

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