Dáil Éireann - Volume 453 - 23 May, 1995
Written Answers. - Bhutanese Refugees.
Mr. O'Malley Mr. O'Malley
23. Mr. O'Malley asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will raise with the EU and with the United Nations the situation of the southern Bhutanese people who are  now in refugee camps in Nepal and elsewhere, who are not allowed to return to their own country and whose human rights have been individually and collectively seriously interfered with. [9296/95]
Mr. M. Kitt Mr. M. Kitt
37. Mr. M. Kitt asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he will raise the question of the Bhutanese refugees with the United Nations and with the Indian Ambassador; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [9313/95]
Mr. Sargent Mr. Sargent
64. Mr. Sargent asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs if he has raised the issued of the forced exile of 100,000 Bhutanese people with the Government of India, Bhutan or in the United Nations. [9275/95]
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring) Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring)
Tánaiste and Minister for Foreign Affairs (Mr. Spring): I propose to take Questions Nos. 23, 37 and 64 together.
I am aware that about 85,000 people from Southern Bhutan have left the area and are how housed in refugee camps in Nepal, which are being serviced by the UN High Commission for Refugees.
Ireland has raised the problem of the southern Bhutanese refugees with partners in the European Union. We also took up the issue last month during the annual meeting between senior officials of the Department of Foreign Affairs and the Indian Ministry of External Affairs.
Talks are in progress between the Governments of Bhutan and Nepal but to date it has not been possible for them to reach agreement on the return of refugees. The Nepal-Bhutanese Joint Ministerial Committee has held two rounds of talks since the beginning of this year, from 27 February to 2 March and from 17 to 20 April. Since then there has been a meeting at the highest level. The King of Bhutan and the Prime Minister of Nepal met in New Delhi on 3 May and discussed the situation.
 Since 1992, the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has managed an emergency relief programme for refugees and asylum seekers who have come from Bhutan to the camps in Nepal. In 1994, 1.5 million ECUs was provided by the European Union to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees for their relief programme in the refugee camps. Irish Government funding has been made available, via the Agency for Personal Service Overseas, to assist five Irish aid workers who are working with the UNHCR to provide primary education to the large number of refugee children in the camps. The UNHCR intends to expand its relief assistance to the refugees and is working to find more permanent solutions to the problems of shelter and sanitation in the camps. The Government will sympathetically consider contributing to the UNHCR's relief programme for refugees.
At Ireland's request, the European Union is closely following the refugees' situation and the continuing talks between the two Governments.
Dáil Éireann 453 Written Answers. Bhutanese Refugees.