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Submission by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees For the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights' Compilation Report Universal Periodic Review: Nepal
Nepal is not a State party to the 1951 Convention relating to the Status of Refugees or its 1967 Protocol (hereinafter jointly referred to as the 1951 Convention). Nepal is also not a State party to the 1954 Convention relating to the Status of Stateless Persons (the 1954 Convention) or the 1961 Convention on the Reduction of Statelessness (the 1961 Convention). However, Nepal has acceded to a number of other international human rights instruments1 and has been hosting large groups of refugees for over 60 years. Tibetans first sought refuge in Nepal in 1959, when tens of thousands left Tibet following the flight of the Dalai Lama XIV to India. Although many only transited Nepal on their way to India, several thousand Tibetans remained and the Government of Nepal responded generously by providing land to settle and the right to residence. Tibetans who arrived in Nepal before 1989 and their descendants are recognized as refugees by the Government of Nepal. Today it is estimated that Nepal hosts between 12,000 and 20,000 Tibetans. However neither the Government nor UNHCR maintain updated statistics and refugee certificates have not been issued systematically to this group for many years. As no comprehensive registration exercise has been undertaken since 1993 and as a large number of Tibetan refugees were born and raised in Nepal, many Tibetans are now undocumented. According to recent estimates, it could be that as many as 3 out of 4 Tibetans do not possess up-to-date Refugee Cards. In 1989, Nepal suspended refugee recognition of Tibetan arrivals and instead, under the socalled Gentlemen’s Agreement, allowed Tibetan new arrivals safe passage through Nepalese territory to India. The second group of refugees consists of refugees from Bhutan residing in camp settings in eastern Nepal. As of 31 December 2014, the total camp population stood at 23,059 refugees. Refugees from Bhutan are also recognized by the Government of Nepal since the onset of the crisis in the early 1990s. Lastly, so-called urban refugees and asylum-seekers also seek protection in Nepal. They come from 11 different countries and the majority of them are from Pakistan, Myanmar and Afghanistan. As of 31 December 2014, Nepal hosted 137 asylum-seekers and 431 recognized refugees awaiting a durable solution. Nepal does not have a refugee legal framework and refugee status determination is conducted by UNHCR under its mandate for individual asylum-seekers. Nepal considers refugees and asylum-seekers as irregular migrants under the existing laws and imposes a five USD per day fine on all persons overstaying visas, irrespective of refugee status. The Government grants visa fine waivers on an occasional ad hoc basis for refugees departing on resettlement. A large number of Nepalese do not have citizenship certificates. 2 It is estimated that up to 4.3 million Nepalese do not currently possess citizenship certificates and that women, children and marginalized communities are most negatively affected. It is also of concern that the citizenship provisions suggested in the new draft Constitution would allow Nepalese parents to confer nationality on to their children only when both the father and mother can prove Nepalese citizenship. If adopted in their current form, these provisions will increase the risks of statelessness amongst children and are not in line with international human rights standards and Nepal’s human rights obligations. #Refugees #AsylumSeekers #UNHCR
Publisher: UNHCR Type / Script:
Progress Report  in  English
Thematic Group:
UNHCR, (2015)
13.01.00 - Protection Of And Assistance To Refugees And Displaced Persons
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