Updated: April 27th 2018
| Nepal travel guides
Following the Chinese takeover of Tibet there was an influx of over 300,000 exiles/refugees into Nepal on the way to Dharamala in India. It's estimated that 60,000 settled in Nepal. 2,500 refugees cross the border every year either to make there way to India or settle in Nepal.
There are 12 official containment camps. 8 in Kathmandu, and 4 in Pokhara (Tashi Ling, Tashi Palkhiel, Jampaling and Paljorling). There are several more smaller settlements in the surrounding hillsides around Pokhara.
Up until 1989 Tibetan exiles were allowed ID cards and economic assistance. Since then however due to a Chinese / Nepali trade agreement Nepal has agreed not to recognize Tibetan Refugees. They are now not allowed the right to own land, drive a car, work or claim any state benefit.
Today by way of a "gentleman's agreement" any refugee detained by the Nepali authorities will contact the HNHCR who will oversee their placement in a refugee settlement prior to being sent to India.
Today there are huge trade agreements between Nepal and China which so far does not seem to have influenced the Tibetan settlement.
While the Tibetan Refugee Settlements were set up under the immediate need for assistance to the Tibetan people today many Tibetans earn a living from tourism.
If you've spent any time in Pokhara then at some stage while walking along Lakeside your sure to have been approached by a wide smiling lady or man selling trinkets. This is most likely on of the Tibetan refugees.
Many Tibetan refugees are not allowed to legally work, so selling handmade jewelry, trinkets, carvings and carpets is a form of income. Within the settlement camps you will often find much of the same. While during the day people are out tending to crops, there will be a few working and selling there.
In Pokhara the most frequently visited camps are Tashi Palkhie & Jampaling due to their close proximity to the city. All the camps have a small Buddhist Monetary. If you are there for Tibetan New Year (Feb-March) there can often be colorful celebrations held there.
Most of the items for sale are genuine in terms of being handmade. Items can and should be bartered for. Even if there is a price on them.
- Bracelets and Necklaces
- Carpets & rugs
The Tibetan situation often creates a great out pouring of emotion from all sides. Many tourists to Nepal see the abject poverty and situation people are in. However there in. However it's important to remember that short term donations and inexperienced volunteering can create more problems than solutions.
There are a lot of people trying to profit off the Tibetan situation. Similar to Nepalese orphanages and schools. Some are genuine, others are cash generating fronts.
Moreover in recent years the Tibetan Refugee Camps have become "Tourist Attractions" more than resettlement camps.
Simply showing up with a camera, clothing, food, money and a good heart will probably do you more good than the people there. If you do wish to support a settlement the best place to ask is the UNHCR in Kathmandu. They will steer you in the right direction. UNHCR in Nepal Address: Dhara Marga-1, Anil Kuti, Maharajgunj, Kathmandu. Telephone +977 1 441 2521
Alternatively, before going, do read this article about volunteering in Nepal
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