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Northeast and South Asia

Where do you work in the region?

India, Nepal, Sri Lanka, China, Mongolia, Korea.

What are the major challenges for refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in the region?

Tibetan Refugees: Since the Dalai Lama fled China in 1959, Tibetans have continuously left China seeking asylum in Nepal, India, Bhutan and elsewhere. In 2007 alone, 2,156 Tibetan refugees transited Nepal for India. There are over 120,000 Tibetans living in 58 settlements throughout India, Nepal and Bhutan, in addition to many living in scattered communities around the world. The Bureau works hard to ensure that Tibetan asylum seekers are not involuntarily returned to Tibet, and are provided with basic humanitarian assistance.

Bhutanese Refugees: There are currently 108,000 Bhutanese refugees living in seven camps in southeastern Nepal. The U.S. Government has supported these camps over the years through contributions to The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) and the World Food Program (WFP). Since the refugees fled Bhutan 16 years ago, the United States and other donors have been pushing Bhutan and Nepal to work together to provide them durable solutions. In October 2006, the U.S. Government announced a large-scale resettlement program for Bhutanese refugees; we began resettling Bhutanese refugees in the United States in early 2008. The U.S. Government continues to urge the Government of Bhutan to allow refugees to voluntarily return.

Sri Lankan Refugees and Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs): The conflict in Sri Lanka resumed in 2006, and has spread from the East to the North. Despite its small size, Sri Lanka currently has the sixth largest internally displaced persons (IDP) population of concern to UNHCR in the world (over 260,000 individuals) as a result of the long-standing conflict, the tsunami, and the latest round of fighting. The Bureau complements existing USAID programming for Sri Lankan IDPs by funding UNHCR and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC). UNHCR is the lead UN agency in Sri Lanka carrying out protection, camp management, emergency shelter, and non-food relief item distribution for Sri Lankan IDPs. The ICRC facilitates the movement of goods and people, distributes shelter material and other emergency relief items, delivers medical services, improves water/sanitation, and helps restore links between separated families in Sri Lanka.

There are another approximately 100,000 Sri Lankan refugees living in camps in Tamil Nadu, India. The Bureau funds a non-governmental organization (NGO) project there to improve camp conditions in India.

North Korean Refugees: The U.S. Government has implemented the North Korean Human Rights Act of 2004, including by protecting North Korean refugees from involuntary return to North Korea, and by resettling them in the U.S.

How much Bureau funding went to projects in the region in fiscal year 2007 (October 2007 – September 30, 2008)?

The Bureau programmed almost $34 million in East Asia, a portion of which was used to assist refugees, returnees, and other conflict victims from Northeast Asia.  Almost $80 million was obligated for refugees, returnees, and internally displaced persons (IDPs) in South Asia, of which $27.6 million was for non-Afghans.

Where are your Refugee Coordinators based? Which countries do they cover?

A Regional Refugee Coordinator and Deputy Regional Refugee Coordinator are based in Kathmandu. They cover Nepal, India and Sri Lanka.

What are the largest and/or most complex projects you fund?

The primary recipients of the Bureau's funding in East Asia and South Asia are UNHCR and ICRC.

What programs are the newest? Which ones are the oldest? Which have ended recently due to the end of a refugee crisis?

Newest: In FY 2008, the Bureau has provided $875,000 to Catholic Relief Services (CRS) to support improved reception services, shelters, and water and sanitation facilities for Sri Lankan refugees in India.

Oldest: The Bureau has supported The Tibet Fund's refugee reception facilities, education, and basic health services for newly arrived Tibetans since 1991 ($2.5 million in FY 2007).

Which international organization (IO) and non-governmental organization (NGO) partners are active in your region?

UNHCR and ICRC are active in the region.

The Bureau has funded The Tibet Fund to provide assistance to Tibetan refugees and Catholic Relief Services to provide assistance to Sri Lankan refugees.

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