Voices of Humanity: Hopes and possibilities #Stepwithrefugees

Group photo at Sanischare Camp, Morang

LWF Nepal in partnership with UNHCR and in close cooperation with the Government of Nepal, has been supporting refugees from Bhutan for the past 27 years. The support covered the areas of humanitarian assistance, protection and solutions to refugees in Jhapa and Morang districts.  The current Protection and Solutions Strategy focuses on the self-reliance of Bhutanese refugees while increasing their livelihoods and access to national services.

LWF Nepal supports the refugees to observe World Refugee Day (WRD) every year. This year WRD 2019 was celebrated in both Beldangi and Sanischare camps to raise awareness of the struggles that the refugees face across the world. This year WRD theme is Global Compact on Refugees with slogan #stepwithrefugees. It is also marked as a key moment for the public to express support and solidarity for families forced to flee.

The event comprised of different programs including Walkathon, Mass Rally, Formal Stage Program and Key Messages from the concerned agencies with respect to WRD. The key attendees of event were LWF Nepal Country Director Dr Prabin Manandhar, Chairperson of Nepal Evangelical Lutheran Church Rev Joseph Soren, UNHCR Program Officer James Silton Mondo, Deputy Mayor of Damak Geeta Adhikari, Mayor of Pathrisanichare Mr Dilip Rai, LWF Nepal Provincial Office East staff, CARITAS, AMDA, Camp Management Committees, Bhutanese refugees, host communities, and officials from the Government and related agencies.

The event was started with the Walkathon from Damak to Beldangi Refugee camp expressing solidarity with millions of refugees globally for their courage and resilience stepping thousands of miles in search for asylum and protection. There were placards demanding safe and dignified repatriation as durable solutions. There were different stage programs, dramas, and poems focusing on present situation highlighting their struggles and hopes.  The event appealed Government of Nepal and related agencies to open the doors for durable solutions of the remaining Bhutanese refugees.

LWF Nepal Country Director Dr. Prabin Manandhar remarked that the LWF Nepal has been in solidarity with the struggles and courage of the refugee, and will continue to support for the durable solutions.  He said, the refugees leave their homes, families and properties, but not the human rights. Refugees right to live and their right to return to their home-land must be ensured by all.  He also expressed that Bhutanese refugees have contributed to local economy, and appealed the Government to include Bhutanese refugees in the regular program.

UNHCR Representative Mr. James S. Mondo appreciated the livelihood initiations taken by refugee community with support from LWF Nepal and thanked the host community as well as the Government of Nepal for hosting Bhutanese refugees for the last 27 years. He also thanked the Municipality for rendering services to the Bhutanese refugees. UNHCR Field Officer (Protection) Katherine Harris expressed her immense pleasure to work with the refugees all these years, and the passion to serve them and empower them at all stages and grateful being part of it.

Chief Guest of the Program Head of Area Administration Office Damak Mr Krishna Prasad Acharya said that the Government has been serious to seek durable solutions for the remaining refugees and respect the endeavors of the refugee community for self-reliance.

A contribution made by LWF Nepal