CHAKRA, November,15th,2012: Hindu American Foundation (HAF) announced the formation of a partnership with the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) earlier today, as part of a joint project to serve the medical needs of Bhutanese Hindu refugees in Nepal. The protracted refugee crisis originated during the 1990's, when Bhutan forcibly expelled more than 100,000 minority Nepali-speaking Lhotshampa, the majority of whom were Hindus, under the government's repressive "One Nation, One People" policy. The initiative arose following a recent fact-finding mission by HAF doctors to UNHCR administered camps in Damak, Nepal, where they conducted a detailed medical assessment on the needs of the refugees. "HAF is pleased to be partnering with the UN High Commissioner for Refugees in addressing the dental and psychological needs of the Bhutanese refugees," said Arvind Chandrakantan, M.D., HAF Executive Council Member.
The project is being funded entirely by HAF and will be facilitated by UNHCR in conjunction with the Asian Medical Doctors Association (AMDA)-Nepal. According to HAF, the initiative is expected to cost $15,000 per year, over a three-year period. Beyond the provision of dental care, HAF is collaborating with UNHCR to sponsor a board certified psychologist to travel to Nepal three times a year, in order to provide psychological assistance to the refugees on a wide range of mental health issues. The current Bhutanese Hindu refugee population in Nepal is estimated at 56,710, after more than 50,000 refugees were resettled in third countries, including the U.S., in recent years. HAF has detailed the plight of the Bhutanese Hindus in its annual human rights report.