The vast majority of the refugees are called the Lhotshampa, meaning "southern dwellers" and they are one of Bhutan’s three main ethnic groups. They were brought from modern-day Nepal in the late 1800's to protect Bhutan's uninhabited southern lands from British occupation. However, over the years, as their population grew and grew, their presence became more of a threat to the ruling elite, than a national asset.
By tracking the chronology of events leading to the eviction, there is substantial evidence that the expulsion of large numbers of Lhotshampas was planned and executed with careful attention to detail.
Over 107,000 Bhutanese have spent more than 20 years living in refugee camps established in Nepal by the United Nations High Commission for Refugees. Thousands more are living outside the camps in Nepal and India, and some in North America, Europe and Australia.
Since 2008 a resettlement process has seen many thousands of Bhutanese refugees from the camps in Nepal being re-settled primarily in the USA but also in Canada, Australia, Denmark, New Zealand, the Netherlands and Norway.
Partners and Team
"Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere." - Martin Luther King, Jr.r..
Sandwiched between the rising supergiants of China and India, the isolated Kingdom of Bhutan, hailed by many as "the last Shangri-la", has produced one of the highest numbers of refugees in the world in proportion to its population. Since 1991, over one sixth of Bhutan's people have sought asylum.
The Refugees of Shangri La has had the privilege of working with some outstanding collaborators and organizations. Click here to read about our partners.
Our team is small, but our passion for spreading the story of the Bhutanese refugees is massive! We come from a variety of backgrounds and interests. If you haven’t heard us speaking at an event, chatted with us on the phone, or gotten to know us over e-mail- take a minute to get acquainted! Click here for full bios.