Bhutanese Refugees

'Here I am a refugee but I don't want refuge.  I want the wings to fly.'



Situated between the superpowers of India and China, the isolated Buddhist kingdom of Bhutan, hailed by some as ‘the last Shangri-La’, has generated one of the highest numbers of refugees in the world in proportion to its population.

From 1991 over one sixth of Bhutan's people sought asylum in Nepal, India and other countries around the world. 

The vast majority of the refugees are Lhotshampas, one of Bhutan’s three main ethnic groups, who were forced to leave Bhutan in the early 1990s.

Over 105,000 Bhutanese have spent 15 - 20 years living in UNHCR-run refugee camps in Nepal.  Since 2008 a resettlement process has seen the majority of those living in the camps re-settled in the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand and Europe. 

Bhutanese refugees now live all over the world.  Yet their story is largely unknown.

This website tells the story of the Bhutanese refugees.

It explains why these people became refugees and where they have resettled.

On this site you can explore how they became exiled, their lives in refugee camps, resettling in new countries and the ongoing situation for Lhotshampas in Bhutan.


The location of the Bhutanese refugee camps in south eastern Nepal

'I am a girl carrying my own dreams, stories and suffocated views.  This is my life as a refugee'  



Camp Tour

Bhutanese refugee youth show you round the camps


timeline of events in the Bhutanese refugee story


Aljazeera report, 2015