BY KULCHANDRA NEUPANE
KASKI, July 31 - Tibetans at 18 refugee camps, including the one in Kaski district, have not been able to get jobs or start businesses due to lack of Refugee Cards (RCs). The government stopped issuing RCs to the refugees some 13 years ago, without giving any reasons for the move.
Until 1995 the government used to issue RCs to Tibetan refugees above 18 years of age. RCs enabled the refugees not only to get jobs or start businesses but even go abroad for higher studies.
As the government stopped issuing the RCs, thousands of educated Tibetan refugees across the country have been left unemployed and frustrated. Worse, they don't have anything to identify themselves by - neither RCs nor citizenship papers.
Sonam Tengdel, 27, a Tibetan refugee at Hemja camp, wanted to go to the US for further studies but could not do so as he did not have his RC.
"I then completed my Bachelor's degree and started to look for a job. And this time also I was asked to produce identification documents, which I do not have," said Sonam, who now works inside the camp at a juice factory.
Around 14,000 Tibetans are staying in refugee camps nationwide, according to government statistics. However, the refugees claim that their numbers are at around 20,000, of which more than 30 per cent are without RCs.
Chhodun Mendo, a mother of four, said, "My daughters wanted to join a nursing course but they could not due to lack of RCs. Two of my sons have completed their campus studies and are now staying idle."
Chief District Officer of Kaski Baliram Prasad Singh said, "Besides RC renewal we do not issue new RCs and I don't know why they were stopped."
Refugees are required to earn their living. In India, there are around 100,000 Tibetan refugees, and they are free to work in offices, buy land and run businesses, all on the basis of the RC. However, the situation of their brethren in Nepal is quite different.