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|2019 year-end results|
|100%||of refugees had access to primary health care|
|100%||of targeted households had their basic needs met through multipurpose cash grants|
|90%||of primary school-aged refugees and asylum-seekers were enrolled in primary education, except for the Bhutanese refugee population, for whom the enrollment rate was at 75%|
|40%||of Bhutanese refugees had access to work opportunities|
|2020 planning figures|
|200||urban refugees provided guidance on labor market opportunities|
|75||vulnerable urban refugee households will receive cash grants for public education|
|1||comprehensive solutions strategy for Bhutanese refugees fully implemented|
People of Concern
Operational contextIn 2019, UNHCR supported local public health and education facilities to enhance refugees’ resilience and access to services. It also helped to transform the Bhutanese refugee camps into resilient, economically and socially cohesive communities.
A Government plan to digitalize data of long-staying Tibetan refugees was commenced but finished in 2019, with approximately three-quarters of the population remaining without documentation. UNHCR continued to offer training and support to the Government in the exercise. Women continued to face gender discrimination in legal provisions and customs, resulting in difficulties accessing citizenship and birth registration for their children. Through civil society and partners, UNHCR advocated for proposed amendments to a draft citizenship law that would render it gender equal.
Population trendsAt the end of 2019, Nepal was host to nearly 19,600 refugees (64% Tibetan and 32% Bhutanese). Over 600 refugees lived in urban settings. Nepal also hosted 60 urban asylum-seekers and over 500 other people of concern. Between 2007-2019, UNHCR facilitated the resettlement of more than 113,500 Bhutanese refugees to third countries, of whom 310 departed in 2019.
More than 50 urban refugees also departed through private sponsorship and emergency resettlement programmes in 2019, while more than 20 left Nepal spontaneously. Statelessness figures were unconfirmed, but civil society groups projected that up to 6.3 million people may lack citizenship certificates due to lack of awareness, procedural obstacles or gender discrimination in citizenship provisions and practices.
AchievementsUNHCR expanded refugees’ access to social and financial services by supporting public health and education facilities through the construction of classrooms, supporting access to bank accounts, providing of medical supplies, and supporting health insurance for Bhutanese refugees. Nearly 800 families paid for the renewal of their own national health insurance, an achievement towards refugee self-reliance and inclusion. Urban refugees received counselling, legal services and targeted material support for education, and financial assistance for vulnerable cases.
In the areas of participation and representation, refugee camp management committees achieved 50% refugee women representation in executive positions. Of the more than 100 refugees who participated in self-help groups focusing on self-reliance, 65% were women. Meetings on educational policy development at provincial and local levels included refugee children.
Unmet needsDue to limited resources, UNHCR prioritized interventions targeting only the most vulnerable and marginalized, though others also had significant needs. Local authorities identified limited capacity for national schools to include refugees (envisaged to begin in 2020), however UNHCR was able to provide only minimal support.
Due to limited resources at the local government (ward) level, not all refugees born in Nepal received birth registration certificates.
Operational environmentThe current stable environment in Nepal is expected to positively impact the operational environment for UNHCR. The implementation of federalization and the devolution of authority to local governance structures is expected to offer opportunities for further collaboration with the local authorities on refugee issues and with development actors based on the principle of leaving no one behind.
For decades, Nepal has been a generous host to refugees, particularly to the over 100,000 refugees from Bhutan, of whom over 90 per cent have now been resettled to third countries. Those who remain in Nepal enjoy access to local health, education, financial, and social services.
UNHCR’s strategic direction for 2019 is fully congruent with UNHCR’s focus on the principles of protect, include, empower and solve. UNHCR will place emphasis on: achieving solutions for long-staying refugees; empowerment and self-reliance through greater livelihood opportunities and enhancing community based protection; reinforcing inclusion with enhanced access to public services and synergy with host communities; enhancing partnership, including further engagement with development actors and development processes (UNDAF, SDGs); enhancing access to legal identity including birth registration; and preserving asylum space. The strategy was developed in consultation with the Government, donors, the diplomatic community, NGO partners and persons of concern.