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Nepali asylum seekers opt to return home after 19 months on a Micronesian island

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At least seven Nepali men have decided to return home after 19 months of detention in a Micronesian island while they were attempting to reach Australia, New Zealand or the United States unlawfully.

Sixteen Nepali men and 18 Indian men were detained at a wharf in Yap since the boat they were travelling on was detained in November 2014, ABC Online reported.

The International Organization for Migration (IOM) said seven of the Nepalese men would now return home.

According to the reports, when they landed on Yap, one of the Federated States of Micronesia in the north-western Pacific Ocean, they told local police they were hoping to reach Australia, New Zealand or the United States.

They have been detained ever since on a Yap wharf in conditions described by locals as “dire”.

A local clam farmer, Australian citizen Phillipe Dor, said at the time the boat’s crew said they were sent there, with the guidance of GPS, by Indonesian people smugglers who assured them they would be taken from Yap to Australia or elsewhere.

Philip Raffilpiy of the IOM’s office in Yap said the Nepali men who had opted to return home had done so of their own will.

“It appears they’re in a very clear state of mind, they know what they’re doing,” he told Pacific Beat.

“I would not say more on that because they have been here for over a year and maybe they’re stressed and tired of being here and it may have helped them make the decision.”

Mr Raffilpiy said the rest of the Nepali men were reluctant to leave.

The process of determining whether the Nepali men were genuine refugees was still ongoing, he said.

He said moves were also underway to repatriate the Indian men, with the assistance of the Indian Government, which was providing passports and coordinating travel arrangements with Micronesian officials.

“It is the Government of India’s [will] that all those from India should go back,” Mr Raffilpiy said.

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Tourist arrivals jumped 73.5 percent in July

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KATHMANDU — Tourist arrivals to Nepal jumped 73.5 percent in the month of July, according to statistics released by Nepal Tourism Board (NTB).

The NTB said that this increment is because of a sharp increase in the number of travellers from countries like India, China, the US and the UK. The growth in the numbers has also been attributed to Indian pilgrims visiting Mount Kailash Mansarovar in Tibet, via Nepal.

The statistics show that Nepal received a whopping 73,285 international tourists in July—a time of the year that is considered to be an off-season for tourists due to the monsoons. With July’s figures, the number of foreign tourists visiting Nepal in the first seven months (January–July) of 2018 reached 593,299, which is an increase of 18 percent as compared to the same period last year.

Total 18,385 Indian tourists visited Nepal via air transport, which is up 80.4 percent compared to the same period last year.

After India, Nepal received the highest number of visitors from China. The Chinese tourist numbers have more than doubled to 13,123 in the month of July. This is a 125.4 percent growth in comparison to the arrivals in the same month last year.

Overall arrivals from SAARC countries registered a growth of 66 percent, in comparison to the same month last year. However, arrivals from Bangladesh declined by nine percent. Arrivals from rest of the Asian countries have also recorded a robust growth of 86.2 percent.

Visitors from Japan and South Korea to Nepal also increased by 36 percent and 21.9 percent respectively.

Likewise, an overall increase of 54.1 percent in July has been recorded from European source markets. However, arrivals from Austria declined by 72.6 percent.

The number of visitors from the US and Canada have also grown by 79.6 percent and 73.3 percent respectively.

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