Start of repatriation to Guinea-Bissau from Guinea (Conakry)

Briefing Notes, 8 October 1999

This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Kris Janowski to whom quoted text may be attributed at the press briefing, on 8 October 1999, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

For the first time since they fled the civil war in their country in 1998, Guinea-Bissau refugees in neighbouring Guinea told UNHCR last week that they wanted to go home. Staff who surveyed the group of 1,800 refugees during a mission to the border town of Boke, 200 km north of Conakry, registered 600 volunteers for repatriation.

Until last week, the group had said they would not return even though Guinea-Bissau refugees in other countries had begun returning earlier this year. UNHCR completed a return operation from Senegal at the end of July. More than 700 refugees were repatriated by boat from Dakar.

The first returns from the Boke site are expected to take place later this month. UNHCR has also been caring for Guinea-Bissau refugees in Gambia (700) and Cape Verde (600) since the civil war in the West African nation.