News Stories, 30 January 2008
LAINE, Guinea, January 30 (UNHCR) – The UN refugee agency has formally handed over the infrastructure of two refugee camps in south-east Guinea to the government.
UNHCR Representative in Guinea Dillah Doumaye said the infrastructure of Lainé and Kouankan 1 camps would be of great use to the local population and the remaining refugees.
"The infrastructures constitute real opportunities for the population and local authorities, who will use them for the common good," he said at a handing-over ceremony here last Saturday attended by Interior Minister Mamadou Keita.
The two camps in south-eastern Guinea hosted tens of thousands of refugees from Liberia between 1995 and 2007. Their infrastructure includes administrative buildings, health centres, water outlets, schools and other basic social services facilities.
They were handed over to the government as part of a continuing UNHCR programme aimed at easing the integration of refugees remaining in the country since the end of the conflict in Liberia.
"I would like to express my gratitude for these jewels, these services and the honour paid to the sub-prefecture of Lainé by UNHCR. We are firmly committed to use this infrastructure for the prosperity of all our citizens," said Lainé Sub-Prefect Alphonse Haba.
With the support of the local and central authorities and the local population, UNHCR set up several large camps in Guinea in the 1990s for refugees fleeing armed conflict in West Africa. At its peak, Kouankan 1 sheltered nearly 35,000 refugees, mostly Liberians.
By the end of 2007, the camp populations fell substantially after some 75,000 Liberians returned home from Guinea, including 51,000 with UNHCR assistance. Some 23,000 refugees continue to live in Guinea, including 8,000 Liberians in the two camps.
UNHCR is now working to facilitate the local integration of these refugees through community-based projects in the areas of health, education and roads. It is also promoting self-reliance among refugees and locals as well as helping restore the environment, which was damaged during the influx of large numbers of refugees.
By Faya Foko Millimouno in Conakry, Guinea