The Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement Research is following a group of Bhutanese refugees from camps in Nepal through to settlement in New Zealand.
The research involves three phases of data collection. The first phase involved initial interviews with a group in refugee camps in Nepal. The second phase involved follow-up interviews at the end of the resettled refugees’ orientation process at the Mangere Refugee Resettlement Centre, and the third phase involved interviews in the community 18 to 20 months after the refugees’ arrival in New Zealand.
Since the 1990s, over 100,000 Lhotshampa (Bhutanese of Nepali origin) have been confined to seven refugee camps in south-eastern Nepal after the Government of Bhutan revoked their citizenship and forced them to flee the country. These Nepali Bhutanese spent 18 years in refugee camps, being denied integration into the local Nepal community or their return to Bhutan before the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees offered third-country resettlement as a solution.
In 2007, New Zealand announced its inclusion of Bhutanese refugees into its annual refugee quota, and in 2008 the first selection mission to the camps in Nepal took place.
As part of the second selection mission in October 2008, 33 Bhutanese refugees gave their permission to be interviewed about their pre-settlement needs, expectations and experiences. The first report, The Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement Journey – Part 1: Pre-departure presents the findings from these interviews.
The second phase of the research is reported in The Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement Journey – Part 2: On-arrival (Department of Labour, 2011a). This report focuses on specific aspects of the orientation programme and how it worked, how before and after departure expectations were met, and the refugees’ hopes for their life in New Zealand.
The third and final phase of the research explores the post-settlement experiences of this group of former refugees and examines specific elements of settlement into New Zealand society. The findings from these interviews can be found in The Bhutanese Refugee Resettlement Journey – Part 3: Settlement (Department of Labour, 2011b)