International migration office bombed in Nepal

July 1st, 2008 - 1:53 pm ICT by IANS  

DPA
Kathmandu, July 1 (DPA) At least two crude bombs exploded in the office compounds of the International Organization of Migration (IOM) in eastern Nepal, causing panic but no injuries, media reports said Tuesday. The bombs were hurled at the IOM office compound in Damak town, about 450 km east of the capital Monday evening, the Kathmandu Post newspaper reported.

The IOM is involved in third country resettlement of Bhutanese refugees, which has been vehemently opposed by several political groups representing refugees.

The blast caused no human casualties, but highlighted growing security concerns for refugees favouring third-country resettlement.

Although no group has yet claimed responsibility for the blasts, police said they suspected the involvement of underground groups operating inside the refugee camps, the newspaper said.

The underground groups, which include the militant Bhutan Communist Party - Marxist Leninist Maoist, had previously demanded a halt to the resettlement programme terming it “human trafficking.”

The group has also been accused of intimidating refugees against applying for resettlement.

More than 107,000 Bhutanese refugees live in seven United Nations run refugee camps in eastern Nepal.

The majority of the refugees have been living in the camps since the early 1990s when they fled Bhutan, accusing the authorities of persecuting them on the basis of their culture, religion and language.

The latest attacks came days after the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said more than 1,400 refugees had been resettled in a third country under the programme.

Most of the refugees were resettled in the United States, with smaller groups going to Canada, the Netherlands, Norway, Denmark, Australia and New Zealand.

Media reports said the UNHCR expected the resettlement programme to pick up within the next few months, and about 2,000 refugees would leave Nepal for resettlement each month.

To date, more than 38,500 Bhutanese refugees have registered their desire for resettlement. The US has said it would take in more than 60,000 refugees.

The resettlement programme was implemented after Nepal and Bhutan failed to agree on repatriation.
DPA

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