There is widespread repression in southern Bhutan.  Citizenship cards are confiscated by government authorities.  Many southern Bhutanese government employees are dismissed from service.  Homes are burnt and demolished.

Southern Bhutanese begin to flee the country, some following eviction by government forces following further census exercises, some through fear of arrest and torture.  Southern Bhutanese citizens are forced into signing so-called "voluntary migration forms".

The exodus of tens of thousands of people via India into Nepal creates a humanitarian crisis.  Those arriving in India are put in trucks and moved on to the Nepalese border.  There is a cholera outbreak in the camps.

Read some personal testimonies.


At the request of government of Nepal, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) establishes refugee camps in south-eastern Nepal.  The refugee exodus reaches its peak by mid-year: up to 600 people a day arrive in the camps in Nepal.  At the end of the main exodus, about 100,000 settle in the camps, with up to 20,000 living elsewhere in Nepal and India.

Read some personal testimonies.


The governments of Bhutan and Nepal establish the Joint Ministerial Committee (JMC) to verify the status of the people in the refugee camps and work toward a resolution of the refugee problem.  16 rounds of meetings ensued over the next 10 years but yielded no resolution.