Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal
In autumn 2013 I was assigned by Franco/German TV Channel Arte to be part of a reportage team that would document the lives of Bhutanese Refugees living in Jhapal district of Nepal. In 1992 the Bhutan government commenced a policy of ethnic cleansing, and some 107,000 refugees were driven across the border, initially into a kind of no man’s land, and eventually on into eastern Nepal. The Nepalese government washed their hands of this humanitarian disaster, and so the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) established five camps.
Twenty four years on and now several years into a resettlement programme only 20,000 or so refugees still reside in the camp, the vast majority having begun a new life in the west, predominantly the US. It is planned that all the camps will have closed by 2017.
Camp Beldangi, from where these images were mostly created, is known locally as 'Camp Paradise', and ironic moniker.
The team consisted of Régis Wernier, Oscar winning film director (Indochine), distinguished writer Fatou Diome, and French cartoonist Nicolas Wild. Over a period of two weeks each created a unique execution that personally expressed their experiences in the camp. The documentary has been broadcast several times on Arte TV, with significant coverage on the web and also internationally in the traditional print media. Images from the work carried out in Nepal have since been exhibited in Paris and Strasbourg, and in April 2016 a book will be published.