May 29th, 2007 10:13 EST
UN urges calm following deadly violence at refugee camp in Nepal
– The United Nations refugee agency today appealed for calm at a camp in Nepal where clashes have left two people dead.
The appeal was made in Geneva by Jennifer Pagonis, a spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) who said the fighting broke out between groups of refugees with differing opinions over third country resettlement, and that police intervened to curb the violence and to maintain law and order.
“The situation remains tense, and a curfew imposed by government authorities, starting Monday in all seven camps, is still in force. We are reviewing our daily presence in the camps until the situation stabilizes,” Ms. Pagonis said.
High Commissioner António Guterrres, who has just returned from a five-day mission to both Nepal and Bhutan last week, told the refugees who have been in camps in eastern Nepal since the early 1990s that they had the freedom to chose whether to resettle, and urged refugees to respect others freedom of choice.
He also assured the refugees that he would make every effort to ensure that as many doors as possible would be opened in terms of a lasting solution to their plight, including voluntary repatriation.
In Nepal, the High Commissioner discussed the situation of the 107,000 refugees in the seven camps in the country and the urgent need to find solutions to their plight. He welcomed the constructive approach of the Nepalese government in allowing resettlement to go ahead as soon as possible following the generous offer of a core group of countries – the United States, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Australia, New Zealand and Netherlands – to offer more than 60,000 resettlement places.
“We are deeply concerned over violent incidents in a refugee camp in eastern Nepal in which two refugees have died and others been injured during clashes which started Sunday and we appeal for calm to be restored immediately,” Ms. Pagonis said.