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Liberia: more fighting, more flight to Guinea

Briefing notes

Liberia: more fighting, more flight to Guinea

24 August 2001

More than 120 Liberian refugees fleeing renewed conflict in Liberia's northern Lofa County have arrived in the Macenta area of south-east Guinea over the last few days. On Wednesday, UNHCR and local authorities transferred the refugees to Kola camp, 35 km north of the south-eastern town of Nzérékoré. The refugees, many of whom are in poor health, say they fled when fresh fighting broke out in a village called Batazou in Lofa on 10 August and hid in the bush for more than a week before reaching the Guinea border. Among the new arrivals were more than a dozen wounded refugees who received emergency treatment in Macenta before being transferred to Kola camp. The refugees say that many of them were separated from other family members as they tried to reach Guinea. The whereabouts of some 60 family members of the new group remain unclear. Refugees told UNHCR that large numbers of people have fled their villages and many more Liberians are likely to make their way to Guinea.

Meanwhile, an unknown number of the new arrivals have been detained by Guinean authorities in Macenta. UNHCR has so far been denied access to the detained group. It is not clear why some individuals have been detained, although it is believed that able-bodied males from Liberia are likely to be suspected of belonging to forces hostile to the Guinean army.

There are more than 80,000 Liberian refugees in Guinea. Many of them have lived in Guinea for the last decade, mainly in the south-eastern part of the country.