Nepal again excludes Tibetan refugees from legal ID plans
There are no plans by the Nepalese government to issue legal IDs (refugee cards) to thousands of Tibetan refugees living in the country, despite calls from rights groups and other nations for them to do so, Phayul reports, citing The Kathmandu Post. The revelation also coincides with a disruption in the issuance of biometric passports to eligible Nepalese.
Nepal’s government will proceed with issuance of the ID cards to Bhutanese refugees, however, according to the report.
Home Secretary Tek Narayan Pandey was quoted as saying a request has been sent to Cabinet for approval before the distribution of the cards to Bhutanese can commence.
According to Phayul, Nepal stopped issuing legal identity to Tibetan refugees in 1994 and has not kept any official records of them since 1995. Efforts since then to reverse the trend have ended in futility despite calls from human rights advocates and countries such as the United States.
Per UN Refugee Agency estimates, one third of the about 12,000 Tibetan refugees in living in Nepal are still struggling to secure refugees cards, which is the document used to establish their legal identity in the country.
Without the cards, the refugees cannot carry out certain activities such as seeking admission into higher education institutions, starting up a business, applying for a job or engaging in other income-generating activities.
Phayul cited Indra Aryal, former president of the Human Rights Organisation of Nepal as saying many Tibetan refugee youth go through severe hardship due to lack of the ID cards, decrying the fact that successive Nepalese governments have been reluctant to solve the problem.
‘Technical issues’ slow down biometric passport issuance
Such difficulties have led authorities to revert to issuing more of the previous-generation machine-readable passports.
At the launch of the biometric passports, authorities had planned to get the process fully operation in all administrative district offices across the country from the first week of December.
The Post also recounts the ordeal some of the biometric passport applicants have gone through trying to secure the ID document.