The Bhutanese refugees in Turtle Creek were forced from their country amidst a conflict rooted in ethnic, political and religious differences. Ethnically Nepali, the Bhutanese refugees were primarily followers of the Hindu religion in a predominantly Buddhist country. Starting in the 1980’s Bhutan’s monarchy began a process of discrimination that lead to an ethnic cleansing of the minority population in the early 1990’s.
Fleeing persecution in Bhutan, the refugees made their way to Nepal, where they were placed in refugee camps, with no hope to integrate into Nepali society or return to their home.
Refugees, like the Bhutanese, who are confined to camps indefinitely become known as warehoused refugees. The Bhutanese spent 18 years in southeastern Nepal relegated to seven camps with tenuous living conditions and few job opportunities. In refugee camps, existence is day to day, relying on international agencies for food, water and the most basic necessities.
In January 2007, the US Department of State announced it would host the resettlement of 60,000 Bhutanese over the next several years to cities across the US. The first Bhutanese refugees reached Nashville in July 2008, but most arrived in the middle of 2009.
The UN World Food Programme released this video story about the Bhutanese refugee resettlement in June of 2009.