About 105,000 Bhutanese refugees live in seven camps in southern Nepal. About 40 percent are children. Neither Nepal nor Bhutan recognizes them as citizens.
The refugees are ethnically Nepali. Their ancestors migrated to southern Bhutan in the 19th century. In the late 1970s, the Bhutanese government introduced sweeping legislations that discriminated against the Hindu Nepalis, who were seen as a threat to the monarchy and indigenous Buddhist Bhutanese.
Since 1990, the refugees have been living in squalid refugee camps. About 25 percent of the refugees were born in Nepal and neither Nepal nor Bhutan is willing to accept them. Nearly 80 percent of the refugees want to return to Bhutan, according to a 2003 UNHCR survey.
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