UNHCR Investigates Sex Abuse of Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has dispatched a fact-finding team to investigate reports that 18 Bhutanese refugees were sexually assaulted in Nepal by aid workers from local non-governmental organizations, the UN Wire reports. One of the victims is a 7-year old girl.

Last month, a United Nations investigation team reported that aid workers in refugee camps in southeastern Nepal raped or attempted to rape girls. At this point, no one has been detained or formally charged. According to the Associated Press, the agency’s inspector-general Dennis McNamara stated that two Nepalese officials whose salaries were paid by UNHCR are suspected of being involved in these abuses. The UNHCR representative in Nepal, Abraham Abraham said that his team would provide both medical and psychological help for the victims of the abuse. He also stated that he would set up a system to make it easier for victims to report the crimes as well as urge the Nepalese government to increase the number of police at the camps, according to AP.

There are approximately 100,000 Bhutanese refugees living in the U.N. sponsored refugee camps in Nepal. The refugees fled Bhutan in the late 1980s as a result of government intimidation of Hindu minorities.


Human Rights Watch 11/22/02; Associated Press 11/19/02; UN Wire 11/20/02

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