Washington, D.C. - The US President's FY 2006 Refugee Admissions Program proposal, conveyed to the US Congress on August 30, 2005, includes a new program to resettle certain Tibetans from Nepal in the United States. The United States has a long tradition of granting refuge to those fleeing persecution and settles more refugees than any other country. According to the Central Tibetan Administration of His Holiness the Dalai Lama (CTA), 125,381 Tibetan refugees were living in India, Nepal and Bhutan, as of March 2004, with some 2,500 new arrivals each year from Tibet. Approximately 10,000 Tibetans are living in the West.
"The US decision to develop a Refugee Admissions Program for Tibetans was made after thorough consultations with the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) over a long period," said Lodi Gyari, Special Envoy of His Holiness the Dalai Lama.
"In considering this program, we were guided by the observation of His Holiness that, as has been the experience of other peoples throughout the world, the Tibetan diaspora can also be a resource to sustain cultural and religious traditions. In the future, the newly resettled refugees should be capable of a greater contribution to the Tibetan exile communities but, most importantly, to inside Tibet," Gyari concluded.
As part of its work to identify and support governmental policies and programs for Tibetans, the International Campaign for Tibet (ICT) assisted Lodi Gyari during consultations about the Refugee Admissions Program and served as a liaison between the CTA and the US State Department.
"This program should help mitigate some problems of Tibetan refugees in Nepal where, at this time, vulnerabilities and needs are most pronounced," said Mary Beth Markey, ICT Executive Director.
In the weeks ahead, the Administration and Congress will consult and finalize the FY 2006 Refugee Admissions Program, which the President should sign for the fiscal year beginning on October 1, 2005.
The CTA welcomed the new US program proposal as "an expression of its commitment to continuing support for the welfare of Tibetan communities." The full text of the CTA statement follows:
"The United States has conveyed to His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA) its willingness to consider resettling Tibetans in the United States as part of its refugee admissions program. If approved, this program would resettle certain Tibetans living in Nepal, with all applicants requiring approval by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security before admission. While criteria have not yet been formulated, it is currently envisioned that this program will be directed towards Tibetans who have been in Nepal for a number of years and who are particularly vulnerable.
"This would not be an immigrant visa operation, as in 1991, but rather a U.S. Government-funded refugee resettlement effort. The CTA will continue to keep the Tibetan community informed on the progress of this proposal, which is now before the U.S. Congress.
"In the past four decades, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the CTA have been able to provide for the needs of the majority of Tibetan refugees with generous support from India, the United States, other governments, and international agencies. We would welcome a decision by the United States to go ahead with the program as an expression of its commitment to continuing support for the welfare of Tibetan communities. His Holiness the Dalai Lama believes that the Tibetan Diaspora in the United States will contribute its resources to helping Tibetan refugees who arrive in the United States, as a means of sustaining Tibet's cultural and religious traditions, and contributing to the world as a whole."