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Guinea: vital supplies recovered

Briefing notes

Guinea: vital supplies recovered

16 February 2001

Over the past two days, UNHCR has used a period of relative calm to extract 110 tons of food and 40 tons of other supplies from its warehouse in the embattled town of Guéckédou in southern Guinea. The supplies are being taken to the main UNHCR base in Kissidougou and then on to new refugees camps in the Albadaria area, further away from the border, where refugees are being brought in from the volatile south.

To date, more than 7,000 refugees have been transferred by truck from the Guéckédou area to the new camp of Kountaya near Albadaria. They are being moved at a rate of about 700 per day. The transfer is hampered by bad roads, a shortage of trucks and lack of fuel. The new site of Kountaya has the necessary basic infrastructure and shelter to accommodate 25,000 people. UNHCR estimates that by the time it has reached its total capacity, other sites will be ready to absorb more people.

Refugees arriving in Albadaria, after a painstaking five to six hours trip on dusty, bumpy roads, say they are happy to be away from the conflict zone. They receive a hot meal upon arrival and are then registered and allocated a shelter of wooden poles and plastic sheeting. Each shelter can accommodate approximately five to six families. Food distributions are being carried out two days on average after the refugees arrive. However many refugees still express the wish to return "home", even if home means being displaced in their own country. They feel Guinea is not the safest place to be, and resent the local population's hostility towards them. Many have been harassed or have had all their goods stolen, and there are still reports of arrests and beatings.