Senior US official to assess Tibetan refugee issues
DHARAMSALA, Nov 13: The US Under Secretary of State for Civilian Security, Democracy, and Human Rights and also the US Special Coordinator for Tibetan issues, Ms Sarah Sewall who is currently in Nepal as part of her eight-day visit to India and Nepal beginning Nov 9 is scheduled to visit Tibetan communities in both the countries.
In Nepal, in addition to meeting the country’s Prime Minister as well as other senior government officials, Ms Sewall is expected to raise issues pertaining to the status of the Tibetan refugees and Nepal’s harsh policy to deal with them, which international rights groups say is influenced by Beijing.
Nepal, home to around 20,000 refugees, considers Tibet an integral part of China in accordance with its One-China Policy and the Nepalese government in recent years has been suppressing anti-China demonstrations by Tibetans on its soil in exchange for billions of Yuan in financial aid from China in various developmental projects in the impoverished country.
Ms Sewall will also visit the Tibetan settlements in Kathmandu and Pokhara, according to a release by the US State Department.
After her engagements in Nepal, Ms Sewall will arrive in India late this week and visit Dharamsala, the north Indian hill town from where the Tibetan spiritual leader, His Holiness the Dalai Lama and the Central Tibetan Administration (erstwhile known as the Tibetan government-in-exile) are based.
Ms Sewall, who had met the Dalai Lama soon after she took up the position in February will discuss Tibetan refugee issues with the Tibetan officials in Dharamsala and announce a US government aid of $3.2 million for a Tibetan Health System Strengthening Project.
“As the United States Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, Under Secretary Sewall will also travel to Dharamsala, India to discuss Tibetan refugee issues. She will announce a new award of $3.2 million for a Tibetan Health System Strengthening Project to universalize access to quality health services, and especially to end preventable child and maternal deaths and create tuberculosis free communities, for Tibetan refugee communities in India and Nepal,” the US State Department’s press release said.
Earlier on September 18, speaking at the House Oversight and Government Reform Subcommittee on National Security, Sewall had announced that she would travel to India and Nepal to meet Tibetans in exile.
“As the Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues, I work to coordinate U.S. government efforts to promote an end to interference by authorities into the religious affairs of the Tibetan people. In this role, I promote the policy of seeking to assist the preservation of the distinct religious heritage of Tibetans,” she had said.