Advocacy determinations: Bhutanese Refugees Children in Province Level Girls Summit

Bhutanese Refugees Children Khina Kharel and Muskan Tamang at Provincial Level Girls Summit held in Biratnagar .

Biratnagar, 11 October, 2018- LWF Nepal with the support from UNHCR has been providing care, maintenance, protection and shelter to the Bhutanese Refugees since 1991. The changing context from humanitarian support focusing on the long term development to enhance well-being of the refugees is of paramount importance.

In this regard, project activities are based on involving local government for sustainability and to develop resilience and independent societies. LWF Nepal has been engaged in different sectorial areas to robust Bhutanese Refugees capacity development initiatives to raise their voices and to address their issues mobilizing different camp based organization inside refugee camps. LWF Nepal with the support from UNHCR has been capacitating Bhutanese Refugees in different thematic areas such as vocational training, business/ financial management, social accountability tools and many more life learning skills to robust their knowledge and capacity.

In this context, Bhutanese Refugee Children Forum (BRCF) is one of the dynamic camp based organizations which has been working to bring younger people together since 1997. The children forum has been established by LWF Nepal with the financial support from UNHCR and Young roots. The aim of this forum is to boost capacity of camps children through different trainings/ exposure, awareness raising activities, mainstreaming coordination and collaboration with host community/ municipality, child networks/clubs and safe guarding child protection mechanisms as well as developing child friendly environment inside camp settings. Moreover, this forum is central for response mechanism for children at risk to mitigate their vulnerability. As a result of ongoing lobbying and advocacy with the government for creating nexuses/synergy between the two communities, BRCF has been indexed in ward office as an acknowledgement from the local level government.  

Now with the changing context of the refugee camp where the service delivery is linked with the local government for the sustainability, LWF Nepal jointly with the local government has been conducting ongoing advocacy efforts for enhancing well-being of the children and creating child friendly governance structure in refugee camp and host community. Moreover, LWF Nepal and UNHCR have been conducting advocacy efforts in different level of government. One of the great achievements is the participation of Bhutanese Refugees Children in Provincial Level Girls Summit held in Biratnagar in August, 2018. Through support from LWF/UNHCR two girls Khina Kharel from Sanishcare camp and Muskan Tamang from Beldangi camp participated in three days Summit which was organized by Women Development Federation (Nari Bikash Sang). Both the participants are Bhutanese Refugee Children Forum elected members from both the camps. The slogan of Girls Summit was "sanai chu badhna deu bal bibaha hoina padhna deu" which means “I am small let me grow, don’t get me married early but let me study”.  The slogan focuses on stopping child marriage and promoting girls education. Representatives from provincial level, government stakeholders, Province 1 child networks, district level child protection authorities, LWF and UNHCR attended the summit including the Minister for Social Development from Province 1. The capacity development activities done by LWF with support from UNHCR helped the girls to raise their voices and grievances of refugee children. They also shared the present scenario of refugee children inside their camp and the support they have been receiving from different stakeholders.

They further shared their views about clarifying policies to support the refugee children. Hon’ble Jeevan Ghimire, Minister for Social Development addressed it by saying "Although they are refugees they are living in our country, so, whatever policy we apply for other girls/children it will be applied for refugee children. In addition, social security will also be ensured". During the summit, the Provincial Government shared ‘Provoncial Level Girls Summit 2075, Biratnagar Declaration’. The 11th point of the declaration states, “For refugee children's right the conference acknowledges the concerns voiced by refugee girls and ensures that the voices of refuges will be heard by the concerned authorities.”

Dr. Prabin Manandhar, Country Director of the LWF Nepal says, “We are committed to supporting every girl to develop her skills and reach her full potential. Gender equality and women’s empowerment including girl child at the centre of our development efforts will be critical to the success of SDGs.”

Text by: Aagya Pokharel and Kritagya Regmi

Photo by: LWF Nepal

Caption: Bhutanese Refugees Children Khina Kharel and Muskan Tamang at Provincial Level Girls Summit held in Biratnagar.