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High Commissioner Ogata to travel to West Africa

Briefing notes

High Commissioner Ogata to travel to West Africa

19 February 1999

The High Commissioner, Sadako Ogata, will visit West Africa next week to take a first hand look at one of the world's most difficult refugee situations. Mrs. Ogata will travel to Guinea, Liberia, Côte d'Ivoire and, security permitting, to Freetown - the capital of war-torn Sierra Leone. She is scheduled to meet with heads of state and follow UNHCR's operations in the field. Her eight-day mission begins Tuesday, 23 February, in Guinea.

Guinea hosts a refugee population of almost 470,000 (as many as 350,000 from Sierra Leone and 120,000 from Liberia). In Liberia, UNHCR is assisting an estimated 95,000 refugees from Sierra Leone, while working to support the repatriation of Liberian refugees from neighbouring countries. Since the end of 1997, close to 100,000 Liberians have returned home with UNHCR help, with again that many repatriating spontaneously. Côte d'Ivoire still hosts an estimated 90,000 Liberians.