United Nations
Information Centre | Nepal
Waves of life: the role of radio in Bhutanese refugee camps in Nepal
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“Radios are powerful objects. They transmit information to societies, nurture communities and, as in the case of the Rwandan genocide, even destroy them (Kellow and Steeves 1998, 107). Though in the Western world radio is often perceived as an outdated artifact or a source of entertainment reserved for travel between two places, it is a ubiquitous fixture in many developing countries and plays an integral role as an affordable, accessible and mobile information medium. But does radio’s power go beyond its capacity to communicate to a wide audience?
Bhutanese refugees do not own much, but among their few possessions, you will often discover a radio. For these refugees, residing in camps located in eastern Nepal, radio is the primary means of accessing critical information. It commonly covers crime and other important occurrences in the camps, floods during the monsoon season, fires during the dry season and riots in this politically tumultuous region. Aside from relaying news, radio stations deliver a variety of recreational programmes, which occupied countless hours of refugees’ listening time.
I had traveled over 8,000 miles to assess the use of radio in the Bhutanese refugee camps. I was interested in the utility of such a medium for refugees, who themselves have been mobile, face isolation in their host countries, have high rates of illiteracy and function on limited resources. For such individuals, radio’s features make it highly adoptable and valuable. I immediately determined that radio was a heavily relied upon source for news and entertainment, but soon discovered that a critical aspect of its use had been overlooked.
It occurred to me after my conversation with Vidhyapati’s mother that, although his mother had never paid attention to the programmes, she felt isolated without radio. Such a sentiment suggested that the very presence of the radio had meaning. I had been fixated on radio’s utilitarian function – as a means of communicating information between transmitter and receiver – and had missed its deeper significance. The purpose of radio went beyond supplying content. In fact, it was woven into the lives of refugees, and the nature of its incorporation reflected the refugee condition, their state of being and very existence. This paper expands upon the above premise, exploring radio’s significance to refugees and the role it plays in their experiences.”
#Refugees #AsylumSeekers #UNHCR
UNHCR ,   (2013 )
Type / Script:
Publication in English
Thematic Group:
 UNHCR : Refugees and Migration
13.01.00  -  Protection Of And Assistance To Refugees And Displaced Persons
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