Why is the resettlement in a third-country the chosen solution by the Bhutanese refugees? A personal answer to a political problem


  • Nicolò Di Marzo Aalborg University Copenhagen
  • Shiba Chapagain Aalborg University Copenhagen




This paper gives voice to the motivations that drove thousands of Ethnic Nepalis from Bhutan to choose resettlement as a solution to their neverending plight. Expelled by their own country where they started to be perceived as a source of instability in the 1980s, the Bhutanese refugees have found refuge in Nepal for the last 20 years, surviving an inhospitable policy reluctant to integrate them. From 2007, the governments of Denmark, Australia, Canada, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Norway and the United States started to host the Bhutanese refugees willing to be resettled in a third-country. Since 300 Bhutanese refugees are currently living in Denmark, we decided to interview the 41 resettled in Haslev, a town in Faxe municipality, about 60 km from Copenhagen. Although refugees are generally perceived as a passive object of humanitarian assistance, our findings show people that they are aware of the difficulty to be repatriated, willing to end a life of idleness in the camps, hoping
for a better future and craving for citizenship, and hence the refugees have actively chosen to start over in a foreign country despite the hardships that they had to encounter. The resettlement in fact proves to be a long process that does not end with the arrival of refugees, but it actually continues in the host state.

Author Biographies

Nicolò Di Marzo, Aalborg University Copenhagen

Graduate Student, Global Refugee Studies

Shiba Chapagain, Aalborg University Copenhagen

Graduate Student, Global Refugee Studies,