The High Commissioner for Refugees is mandated by the United Nations to lead and coordinate international action for the worldwide protection of refugees and the resolution of refugee problems. UNHCR's primary purpose is to safeguard the rights and well-being of refugees. In its efforts to achieve this objective, the Office strives to ensure that everyone can exercise the right to seek asylum and find safe refuge in another State, and to return home voluntarily. By assisting refugees to return to their own country or to settle permanently in another country, UNHCR also seeks lasting solutions to their plight. UNHCR's Executive Committee and the UN General Assembly have authorized involvement with other groups. These include former refugees who have returned to their homeland; internally displaced persons; and people who are stateless or whose nationality is disputed.
The Office seeks to reduce situations of forced displacement by encouraging states and other institutions to create conditions which are conducive to the protection of human rights and the peaceful resolution of disputes. In all of its activities, it pays particular attention to the needs of children and seeks to promote the equal rights of women and girls. The Office works in partnership with governments, regional organizations, international and non-governmental organizations. It is committed to the principle of participation, believing that refugees and others who benefit from the organization's activities should be consulted over decisions which affect their lives.
Refugees from Bhutan
The third country resettlement programme is continuing successfully with strong cooperation among the Government of Nepal (GoN), the resettlement countries, International Organization for Migration (IOM) and UNHCR. Since the start of the resettlement programme in late 2007 to date, 81,547 individuals have departed for their new homes. The United States has accepted the largest number 68,737 followed by Canada 5,558, Australia 4,475, New Zealand 796, Denmark 759, Norway 546, the United Kingdom 350, and the Netherlands 326.
Currently, 35,168 refugees from Bhutan are remaining in the two camps in eastern Nepal – Beldangi in Jhapa district and Sanischare in Morang district. Over 76% of them (26,944 refugees) have declared interest in resettlement.
Tibetan new arrivals
UNHCR facilitates the safe transit of Tibetan new arrivals through Nepal to India and ensures that their protection and material needs are addressed while in Nepal. With respect to the estimated 15,000 Tibetans refugees in Nepal, their access to rights is limited and many lack access to documentation. UNHCR continues to advocate with the authorities at all levels for the issuance of documentation for this group of long-staying Tibetans in Nepal.
Urban asylum seekers and refugees
UNHCR provides protection and assistance to some 400 urban asylum-seekers and refugees. They are considered by the GoN to be illegal migrants although in practice the authorities have been tolerant. UNHCR ensures that refugees have access to adequate reception and health facilities, and provision of subsistence and education allowance. Resettlement remains the only durable solution for most of the urban refugees.
People without access to citizenship certificates
UNHCR works with national partners to support legal awareness and activities to enable marginalized groups to acquire citizenship certificates. Working together with UN and national partners, UNHCR also supports advocacy and awareness raising campaigns on citizenship and vital events registration carried out by civil society.
Country office: Kathmandu
Sub-office: Damak, Jhapa district
Working with partners
Government: Ministry of Home Affairs
NGOs: Association of Medical Doctors of Asia (AMDA Nepal); CARITAS Nepal; Forum for Protection of Public Interest (Pro Public Nepal); Lutheran World Federation; Nepal Bar Association; Trans-cultural Psychosocial Organisation (TPO Nepal); Vajra Foundation, Dalit NGO Federation, Forum for Women, Law and Development
Others: UNV; UNOPS
International Catholic Migration Commission (ICMC); International Organisation for Migration (IOM); WFP