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What Now?

The King and Royal Government of Bhutan must not renege on their promise to repatriate 75% of all refugees following the verification exercise at Khudunabari camp.

Most of the refugees in category 2 (so-called "voluntary" migrants) were forced to leave their country under extreme duress and did not leave voluntarily. They were previously citizens of Bhutan and should not have to reapply for citizenship.

The Royal Government must recognise the right of returnees to a nationality, and guarantee them full citizenship rights.

Refugees placed in category 3 (non-Bhutanese) must have access to a full, fair and independent appeal process.

Refugees classified as "criminals" must have access to a fair trial with full due process guarantees and international monitoring on their return to Bhutan.

Future verification exercises in the remaining camps should proceed without delay on the basis of two categories only: Bhutanese and non-Bhutanese.

The Royal Government should bring to an end the ongoing discrimination against Lhotshampas living in Bhutan. It should work to create a climate of safety and trust in which all citizens can accept and welcome the return of refugees to Bhutan.

The Royal Government should accept the office of the United Nations High Commission for Refugees as an independent monitor of verification and repatriation.

The Royal Government should enter into dialogue with refugee representatives who have steadfastly advocated a rights-based, peaceful resolution of the problem.

The Royal Government of Bhutan should join with its international friends and donors and with United Nations agencies to devise a comprehensive strategy for the refugees' safe, voluntary and peaceful return to Bhutan. For those unwilling or unable to return to Bhutan, the strategy should include options of local integration in Nepal and resettlement to third countries, in line with international standards.

The story of a recent migrant from Bhutan concludes with the following appeal:

“It is very sad to say that thousands of families have suffered like mine, some more than mine. I appeal to anyone who reads this to use whatever influence they have to bring to an end the systematic discrimination against the Lhotshampa people in Bhutan, and to help Bhutan live up to its commitments and Buddhist values of tolerance and compassion.”