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Nepal: Refugee Camps

Volume 461: debated on Monday 4 June 2007

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development what assessment he has made of living conditions in the Goldhap refugee camp in eastern Nepal. (140185)

DFID is not directly involved in the running and administration of the refugee camps in Nepal and has not made its own assessment. However, we are kept informed by the UN about the status of camps and refugees as part of the regular donor dialogue in Kathmandu. DFID Nepal has also had some direct contact and discussions with representatives from the camps about conditions generally and has fed their views back to the UN system.

Of the seven Bhutanese refugee camps in eastern Nepal, Goldhap camp is a middle-size camp, located in the Jhapa district, and has approximately 1,344 families with a total population of 9,626 persons.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) assess the camps as having a high level of education. The general level of medical care and nutrition is above the national average; however recent studies have indicated the prevalence of anaemia in the camps, mainly among expectant mothers and children. In response, UNHCR is implementing a Special Project on Health and Nutrition designed to address this issue.

In terms of prosecuting sexual and gender-based violence and other crimes in the camps, the UNHCR-supported Nepal Bar Association provides a legal assistance programme consisting of legal counselling, legal representation and support in the filing of cases, either in court or at a police station. The involvement of legal professionals from the beginning of the process has helped to strengthen support mechanisms.

Daily camp life is managed with the active support of refugees through the Camp Management Committee, which is formed by refugee representatives annually elected by refugees in a democratic voting process.

Security is provided by the Government of Nepal through a small, recently reinstated police presence in all the camps, with the support of a small number of refugee volunteers who consist of the refugee Community Watch Team. UNHCR also run a number of skills development training courses to promote refugee empowerment, with a specific focus on refugee women.