Briefing Notes, 5 September 2006
This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Ron Redmond – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at the press briefing, on 5 September 2006, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
The final convoy of UNHCR's voluntary repatriation programme for Liberian refugees residing in the Kissidougou region of Guinea was completed last week, setting the stage for the closure later this month of UNHCR's field office there after 18 years.
The last convoy from the Kountaya and Télikoro camps on Friday was organized by UNHCR and local authorities in Kissidougou and Guéckédou districts and brought back 119 Liberian families (297 persons).
The 61st convoy ended UNHCR's repatriation operation for Liberian refugees in Guinea's Kissidougou region, launched on 10 May 2005. Since the beginning of organised voluntary repatriation to Liberia in November 2004, over 38,000 Liberian refugees have been repatriated with UNHCR assistance. This total also includes some 16,000 Liberian refugees who had been living in camps in the Kissidougou region. Most went back to the Liberian counties of Lofa, Bong, Montserrado and Nimba.
Movements from Kissidougou faced many difficulties, including the weather and logistics.
The closing of the UNHCR office in Kissidougou at the end of this month will be a landmark in achieving UNHCR's objectives in Guinea and will end an 18-year presence helping Liberian refugees in the area.
Yesterday, UNHCR started the relocation of the remaining 3,000 Liberian refugees in Kissidougou's Kountaya camp. These refugees either cannot or would not return to their homeland. Those originating from Lofa and Nimba counties in Liberia are being moved to Kouankan and Lainé camps respectively. The relocation should be completed by 15 September.
More than 33,000 Liberian refugees remain in Guinea. Almost all of them are still in the refugee camps located along the Guinean border with Liberia.
In all, there are still 142,720 Liberian refugees in the region, outside their homeland, primarily in Guinea, Côte d'Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Ghana.