A Nepalese news agency has said that the 19 Tibetans who were detained at the border as they were trying to enter Nepal from Tibet on June 24, 2003 have now been handed over to the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) office.

The news agency www.nepalnews.com reported on June 28, 2003 that the Nepali police handed over the Tibetans to UNHCR office in Dhangadhi in western Nepal. The report continued, “According to police, preparations are underway to bring the 19 to the capital. After completing bureaucratic process, they will be finally extradited to the Kathmandu-based United Nations High Commission for Refugees.”

Voice of America’s Tibetan service reported on June 29, 2003 that these Tibetans are expected to arrive in Kathmandu on June 30, 2003. The report did not confirm the nepalnews.com news that these Tibetans have already been handed over to the UNHCR office in Dhangadhi. VOA reported that officials from the Tibetan Reception Centre and the UNHCR in Kathmandu visited Dhangadhi on June 29 to assist the 19 Tibetans.

Residents of Nepal say that it will take around 15 to 16 hours by road for the 19 Tibetans to reach Kathmandu from Dhangadhi. Heavy rain in Kathmandu on June 30, 2003 may have prolonged the travel time, if the Tibetans are on the road. The alternative is to travel to Nepalgunj by road (around four hours) and then by air to Kathmandu. However, Nepalese authorities are keeping a tight lid on their plans.