The US, following a high-level state visit to Nepal, expressed concern over the growing number of stateless people, which includes Tibetan refugees, in the country.
US Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for the Bureau of Population, Refugees, and Migration Kelly Clements visited Nepal for a two-day visit June 5-6 to discuss humanitarian protection and assistance issues for refugees and other vulnerable populations in the region.
A press statement released yesterday by the US Embassy in Nepal, without naming Tibetans, said that DAS Clements ‘expressed the concern of the US government for the population of stateless persons in Nepal’.
IANS quoted officials in Nepal’s foreign ministry as saying that the visiting diplomat asked the Nepali authorities to allow Tibetan refugees in Nepal to register the birth of children born in Nepal.
Nepal is due to begin its new census on June 17 and there is no official indication whether Kathmandu, which stopped issuing identity cards to Tibetan refugees since 1989, will include those ‘stateless’ Tibetans in the national headcount.
Nepal is home to the second largest population of Tibetans in exile after India. Yearly, thousands of Tibetans attempt at crossing the 1,414 km common border that Tibet and Nepal share while embarking on one of the most hazardous journeys to freedom, leading them on to Dharamshala, north India, the exile seat of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
However, stricter border patrolling by the Chinese army since 2008 coupled with Nepal’s political posture of bending backward to appease China has resulted in the decline in the number of Tibetan refugees escaping via Nepal.