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Letter From Jhapa and Morang
December 20, 1995

Human Rights Violations Among Bhutanese Refugees

Author Affiliations

From the Section of Preventive Medicine and Epidemiology, Boston University School of Medicine, Boston, Mass.

JAMA. 1995;274(23):1891-1892. doi:10.1001/jama.1995.03530230075042

WHILE WORKING in Kathmandu between November 1994 and January 1995,I visited the Bhutanese refugee camps in the Jhapa and Morang Districts of eastern Nepal (Figure) at the request of the Physicians for Human Rights. I found a situation there that cries out for a constructive solution. Housed in endless rows of split bamboo huts were 88 000 Nepali-speaking former residents of southern Bhutan. As of August 1995, there were 88 624 refugees in the camps.1 The population increases about 2% to 3% per year as the result of births in the camps and further migration from Bhutan to unify families. An additional 30000 refugees are scattered throughout northern India.

The spectrum of medical problems in the camps is fairly typical of refugee populations, according to Martin et al who performed infectious disease surveillance during 1992 and 1993.2 These investigators recorded crude mortality rates of 1.15 deaths per 10

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