November 9, 2009 / 2:19 PM / in 9 years

U.N. resumes full food aid to Bhutan refugees in Nepal

A Bhutanese refugee woman is seen inside the Timai refugee camp in the east of Nepal March 19, 2008. REUTERS/Rupak De Chowdhuri/Files

KATHMANDU (Reuters) - The U.N. food agency has resumed full supplies of food rations to tens of thousands of Bhutanese refugees in Nepal with the help of aid from Australia, a month after the financial crisis curbed the programme.

About 90,000 refugees of ethnic Nepali origin live in United Nations-supervised camps in southeast Nepal since they began fleeing Bhutan in the early 1990s, alleging human rights violations and discrimination.

With no legal right to work or own land, the exiles are almost entirely dependent on food aid.

But in October, the World Food Programme cut food assistance by half, saying it was facing a cash crunch.

Australia has provided $460,000 to the agency, which was now able to feed them, a WFP statement said on Monday.

Nepal and neighbouring Bhutan have failed to repatriate all the refugees despite several rounds of talks that have strained relations between the two South Asian nations.

About 20,000 refugees have been resettled in several Western countries, including Australia under a third country resettlement programme launched two years ago.

Reporting by Gopal Sharma; Editing by Rina Chandran

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