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5 major issues that refugees in Nepal are living with

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The Rohingya refugee camps based near Ram Mandir area, in Kapan.

Living in a foreign land is a choice for some but a compromise for many. Many people have been forced to leave their nation citing war, disturbances or other social reasons forcing them to flee or be deported to various countries including Nepal, seeking refuge.

According to the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the refugees in Nepal are divided into a few major categories including Tibetan refugees, Bhutanese refugees, and Rohingya refugees.

There are plenty of hurdles and they are forced to live with them. Since they are unable to return to their homeland, they are facing issues that are degrading the quality of life of refugees.

While adjusting to their life in Nepal, here are some issues the refugees in Nepal have to face:

1. Social security

One of the basic needs of a human being is social security. It refers to the protection that is given to an individual by society or the government for easy access to health services, and employment opportunities.

An identification card/citizenship certificate is something that verifies the identity of an individual residing in society. That assists one in their day-to-day life and also after their retirement. But living outside their own country without an identification, refugees in Nepal are deprived of having basic facilities and more.

In the case of Tibetan refugees, only the identification cards of the refugees who arrived in Nepal before 1990 were issued. After that, the government of Nepal has yet to consider the identity cards of the Tibetan refugees who came to Nepal.

Likewise, the government of Nepal is planning to re-issue the identification cards of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal.

2. Safety issues

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Since the government of Nepal does not allow refugees to own their own property, business, vehicles, or employment lawfully, it is very complex for a refugee to live without them. So most of the refugees in Nepal do everything in their power to live a normal life.

And, the financial complexities lead them to perform illegal tasks to sustain their life. Not only that, there are many refugees who are separated from their family members making them subjected to misbehaviour and violence, beatings, theft, intimidation, abduction, and involuntarily servitude. 

Every now and then, the cases of human abuse and exploitation can be heard. Few cases do talk about Nepalis living abroad who are being victimised in a similar way.

3. Discrimination and vulnerability to exploitation and abuse

Throughout the history of human civilisation, the practice of domination and discrimination against foreign people entering an unknown land has been going on and on. While some of the refugees in Nepal are able to speak the Nepali language, they can easily be filtered from the rest of the Nepali people through their voice tonality, and face structure. Plus, being a stateless person without any knowledge of the tradition of a certain community with a language and communication barrier is what gives the predator an opportunity to exploit them very easily. 

There are many times when the refugees in Nepal have to face unwanted behaviours such as verbal abuse, physical attacks, rape as well as other forms of physical and sexual abuse.

4. Education

Refugees don’t get access to basic education.

Education is a basic human right and it develops one’s character. Education is one of the main components that help people make the best use of their minds to create a quality life for themselves. It teaches them the way of life. Yet, refugees in Nepal are left out of this. 

This is because almost every school and educational institutions require identity for admission, to study under them. And, this identity is the one thing that refugees lack, which is one of the important reasons that they are left out of early education. Meanwhile, the government of Nepal is slowly providing them opportunities to study in public schools.

5. Livelihoods and other resources

The Nepali government does not allow the refugees to work (legally), so most of the foreign refugees in Nepal are still lacking access to financial opportunities to fulfil their needs. So, to be self-reliant, many of the refugees have to indulge themselves in illegal activities such as robbing, theft, smuggling, scamming, etc. Issues like a lack of identification are going hand-in-hand with their lack of employment opportunities, which is affecting their approach to financial services one way or another.

To avoid this scenario, different NGOs and INGOs have played a huge role by providing various vocational and entrepreneurial mastery training/workshops like tailoring, handicraft, pickle making, beekeeping, vegetable farming, and many more. Finally, with the help of these skills, many refugees are somewhat able to sustain their life.

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