Guinea: Second repatriation convoy this week to Liberia

Briefing Notes, 23 February 2007

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 23 February 2007, at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.

UNHCR today is repatriating some 200 Liberian refugees from camps in Guinea, back to their homes in the Liberia. This is the second convoy this week, bringing the weekly total to 600. We have no others volunteering for repatriation to Liberia at this time.

A convoy on Tuesday took home to Liberia a group of 400 returnees.

In total, some 90,000 Liberian refugees have repatriated to Liberia from around the region since the start of UNHCR's voluntary return programme in October 2004. More than half of them came from exile in Guinea.

We are continuing our humanitarian operations assisting refugees in Guinea despite the increasingly complex situation and growing uncertainty in the country due to a general strike, the subsequent declaration of a state of emergency, and the lack of progress in the political dialogue.

The distribution of food for refugees in the Kouankan 1 camp, hosting some 7,000 Liberians, and Kouankan 2, hosting some 3,000 refugees from Côte d'Ivoire, was conducted this week without incident.

We also continue to monitor the situation along Guinean borders. No unusual population movements have been reported from any of the neighbouring countries (Guinea Bissau, Senegal, Mali, Côte d' Ivoire, Sierra Leone and Liberia).

There are still more than 31,000 refugees in Guinea, including nearly 22,000 Liberians. In addition there are some 5,000 refugees from Sierra Leone and 4,500 from Côte d'Ivoire. Almost 70 per cent of the remaining refugee population is accommodated in camps located along the Guinean border with Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire, while some 9,000 are scattered across the Guinean capital, Conakry.