Bhutanese refugees began entering Nepal in the early 1990s following the enforcement of restrictive citizenship laws by the Government of Bhutan. In 1992, at the request of the Government of Nepal, the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees(UNHCR) and WFP started providing food, shelter, and non-food assistance. Despite ongoing discussions since 1993, no progress has been made between the Governments of Nepal and Bhutan in either repatriating the refugees to Bhutan or integrating them in Nepal.
After years of uncertainty and with pressure from donor countries, the Government of Nepal agreed to allow refugees to resettle in third countries. While some refugees may choose not to resettle, or hold out hoping that Bhutan may eventually allow their return, the majority of the refugees are likely to be resettled. As of September 2010, over 36,000 refugees have already resettled since 2008.With a population of 28 million people, Nepal is one of the poorest countries in South Asia.After a decade of civil conflict, Nepal stands at a critical juncture. Since the signing of the 2006 Comprehensive Peace Agreement (CPA), political instability continues to plague the nation.Many of the underlying causes that gave rise to the previous conflict persist. Ongoing political instability, combined with changing climate patterns causing drought in particular and sustained high food prices have exacerbated an already difficult situation for the most vulnerable in the country.
WFP and UNHCR have regularly conducted joint assessment missions (JAMs). The last assessment mission carried out in June 2008 found that the refugees remain entirely reliant upon external assistance for their daily subsistence. The JAM’s recommendations and the 2010 WFP country portfolio evaluation (CPE) have informed the design of this new phase of the protracted relief and recovery operation (PRRO).
This three-year PRRO will contribute to Strategic Objectives 1 and 3 of the WFP’s Strategic Plan (2008-2013), mainly in saving lives and protecting and rebuilding the livelihoods of the refugee population. Approximately 70,000 refugees will benefit from WFP food assistance in 2011; 55,000 in 2012; and 40,000 in 2013.
An estimated 2,100 malnourished children, pregnant and lactating women and chronically ill patients will receive additional assistance under a supplementary feeding programme in 2011. This caseload is expected to go down to 1,650 in 2012 and to 1,250 in 2013.
WFP will continue to support supplementary activities including vocational training,reclamation gardening and income-generating activities that promote self-sufficiency among the refugee population. WFP will also continue to ensure the active participation of women refugees in the management and distribution of food.
This PRRO will complement other interventions implemented by UNHCR, the Government and non-governmental organizations.