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Guinea: Joint mission manages to visit 6 camps

Briefing notes

Guinea: Joint mission manages to visit 6 camps

17 October 2000

A joint technical mission to Kissidougou and Guéckédou by UNHCR and partners was able to visit six camps hosting tens of thousands of refugees over the weekend, in a region which hosts approximately 400,000 refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia. The mission found the general situation to be relatively calm although many refugees expressed the wish to go home, following the recent violence in the area. Nutritional problems were noted, especially among young children, as well as the increased need for clean water and better sanitation infrastructure. Many camps had received no assistance since UNHCR withdrew from the border areas in mid-September, following the killing of the UNHCR head of office in Macenta.

Food distribution resumed last week in some of the refugee camps in Forécariah and Guéckédou, both border regions where UNHCR and some NGOs had been forced to withdraw following the spate of violent attacks in early September. In Forécariah, the first distribution benefited the refugees who had fled attacks in the Farmoriah and Dakhagbe camps and sought shelter in Kaliah and Kalako. Some of the refugees had not received food for up to two months. The rations distributed now will last them for 45 days. Some 2,000 persons were still present in Farmoriah camp, which initially hosted 4,300 refugees. Another 1,800 refugees have been transferred to Kaliah for safety. UNHCR also recorded thousands of spontaneous returns of refugees to Sierra Leone in the past few weeks.

UNHCR is continuing its assistance to about 300 refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia who are sheltered at the Matam centre in the surroundings of Conakry, as well as hundreds of Liberians at the Liberian Embassy in Conakry. Most of these refugees have been there since police rounded up thousands of refugees in the capital last September. UNHCR is carrying out food and non-food distributions.

The Liberian Embassy has started repatriating some of its nationals from the Liberian Embassy in Conakry. On Tuesday last week, a first group of 450 persons was taken back to Monrovia by boat. UNHCR is assisting them with transportation from the Embassy to the harbour. A total of 1,135 Liberians at the Embassy had expressed their wish to be repatriated. Food was provided before the departures.