Ambassador Roemer, accompanied by Mrs. Roemer, was welcomed at the center by more than 100 new refugees from Tibet and senior members of the Central Tibetan Administration (CTA), which also provides services and financial support to the center and its temporary inhabitants. A metal plaque on the new facility, which can accommodate 500 people, unveiled during the ceremony, reads “Tibetan Reception Center Complex. Funding provided by the United States Government. Inaugurated by Honorable Timothy J. Roemer, U.S. Ambassador to India, 23rd February 2011.”
The refugee center in Dharamsala is the final point in what can be a long and dangerous journey from Tibet via Nepal to India. Typically, after many weeks traveling in Tibet and a dangerous crossing through the mountain passes of the Himalayas, Tibetan refugees are provided urgent assistance at the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center in Kathmandu, operated under the auspices of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. After transit through Nepal, Tibetans travel onward to Dharamsala where all new refugees are given an audience with the Dalai Lama, and the CTA begins its efforts to provide for their resettlement in schools, monasteries and cultural institutions in Tibetan communities in India. The CTA has launched a Settlement Revitalization Plan, which will receive some financial support from the U.S. Government, to accommodate the stresses of 50 years of refugee in-migration from Tibet to India and Nepal.
On February 24, Ambassador Roemer is scheduled to meet with His Holiness the Dalai Lama at his Dharamsala residence. The two have previously met in New Delhi.
Ambassador Roemer will then tour the Tibetan Children’s Village (TCV) in Dharamsala. The precursor of the TCV was founded to provide for the critical needs of Tibetan refugee children who had been separated from their families or orphaned as a consequence of the arrival in India of tens of thousands of refugees from Tibet following the Dalai Lama’s flight into exile in 1959. The TCV, founded in 1972, continues the mission to ensure that all children under its care receive a sound education and maintain a firm cultural identity.
Ambassador Roemer’s visit to Dharamsala follows by days the visit to a Tibetan settlement in South India by Under Secretary of State for Democracy and Global Affairs, Maria Otero, who serves concurrently as the U.S. Special Coordinator for Tibetan Issues. Under Secretary Otero went on to Kathmandu, Nepal, where she visited the Tibetan Refugee Transit Center and discussed Tibetan issues with various agencies and officials, including the Nepal government. (See ICT reports, ‘U.S. Tibet Coordinator visits Tibetan settlement in south India,’ and ‘High-level U.S. visit shows commitment to Tibetan refugee issues in Nepal.’)
“Taken together, the visits of Ambassador Roemer and Under Secretary Otero underscore the U.S. commitment to the Tibetan people, and the abiding care and generosity of the American people.” said Todd Stein, ICT Director of Government Relations.