With his legs extended on the cot beneath him and hands resting in his lap, Dorjee Gyalpo sat in front of the United Nations on New York City’s East Side last month. Braced against the February cold, the 59-year-old was bundled inside coats, sleeping bags and blankets. Next to him, Tenying Yangsel crouched, her small hands tucked under the edge of his blankets as she translated his Tibetan to English. As it started to snow, she withdrew her hands briefly to tug the layers tighter around Gyalpo’s shoulders. There was a danger of his body temperature dropping; he hadn’t eaten in four days.

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