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Bhutanese Refugees: A Case Study of Oral History Research

By: Published: 2019 | Product: SAGE Research Methods Cases Part 2
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This oral history case study was conducted in the Bhutanese refugee camps in Southeastern Nepal in 2010, 2011, and again in 2016. The camps have been in existence since 1992, when the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees with the assistance of the Government of Nepal gave land in the Jhapa and Morang districts of Nepal to establish seven camps to house the refugees. The refugees were Bhutanese citizens, who were forced to leave Bhutan due to the exclusive nationalism and the “One Nation, One People” policy of the Bhutan government (Rizal, 2004: 156). After 20 years in refugee camps in Nepal and failed negotiations by the United Nation High Commissioner of Refugees to repatriate the refugees back to Bhutan, third-country resettlement became the only solution. The study was conducted using the oral method where the refugee population was chosen using purposeful random sampling with convenience and snowball method. The purpose of this study was to collect the stories of the refugee population and document the experiences of the refugees, their journey from Bhutan to the refugee camps and their lives in the camps, waiting for a solution to the problem, eking out a living in the meager camp conditions. The testimonies of the refugees revealed the anguish and sadness of leaving a happy and prosperous life in Bhutan, the uncertainty of the future, and the hope that one day they will be able to regain all what they lost in terms of identity, memory, culture, tradition, language, and also the sense of belonging to a nation.

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