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Bhutanese Refugees’ Social and Cultural Background

Original Publication Date: August 16, 2011
Last Updated: March 31, 2023
Estimated Read Time: 2 minutes

1.    Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal, Refugee Backgrounder by the Cultural Orientation Resource Center, available at is external)   (at the middle of the page) Right-click to download the PDF: is external)

Basic traditional refugee backgrounder prepared by the Cultural Orientation Resource Center. Gives providers a basic idea about the Bhutanese refugees, as good a place as any to begin your education about this population.

On the same page, the Cultural Orientation Resource Center has a supplement with “additional information about the considerations for resettlement of Bhutanese refugees”. Right-click to download the PDF: is external)

2.    Bhutanese Refugees in Nepal by the UNHCR(link is external), a backgrounder available at the BRYCS Clearinghouse(link is external). Direct link to the PDF: is external).

A PowerPoint presentation from the perspective of the UNHCR, an agency that has assisted the Bhutanese refugees for almost two decades in Nepal, has prepared them for resettlement, and is an authority on the day to day management of the refugee camps where the Bhutanese refugees have spent almost 20 years.

3.    Nepali-speaking Bhutanese (Lhotsampa) Cultural Profile, Maya Maxym, MD, PhD. Provided as a part of EthnoMed’s cultural resources(link is external). Available at is external).

A detailed cultural profile of Bhutanese refugees including information on religious beliefs and practices, death and dying, traditional medical practices, concepts of health and disease, experience with western medicine, and common health concerns. It also includes a set of recommendations on assisting the Bhutanese refugees.

4.    Trapped by Inequality: Bhutanese Refugee Women in Nepal by Human Rights Watch, part of their series of Reports About Asia(link is external). Available at is external)

Documents gender-based abuse and discrimination experienced by Bhutanese refugee women in the refugee camps in Nepal and recommends some ways to address them.

5.    Bhutanese Refugee Cultural Considerations by Students First Project(link is external), available at is external)

This is a product of a county wide project in Vermont and documents the lessons learned by the people working with the newly resettled Bhutanese refugees. Good information about challenges and recommendations from those who experienced them.

photo credit: Christopher Fynn(link is external)

6. Bhutanese in MN Fact Sheet, developed by the Center for Victims of Torture.

This fact sheet includes brief facts on the Bhutanese history of trauma, resettlement, culture, language, family structure, physical and mental health issues, and resources in Minnesota.