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Otunnu visits refugee camps in Guinea

Briefing notes

Otunnu visits refugee camps in Guinea

3 September 1999

Olara Otunnu, UN Special Representative for children in armed conflict, is today visiting UNHCR refugees camps in the Kissidougou region of Guinea to look into the situation of Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugee children.

UNHCR and partner NGOs have registered over a thousand separated refugee children so far in camps in Guinea. In the Kissidougou area, more than 90% of the separated children are Sierra Leoneans.

The just-ended Sierra Leonean civil conflict also involved a large number of child soldiers. UNHCR and the International Rescue Committee have been working to identify those who are now among the refugee population, giving them special psycho-social care, putting them in education programmes and working to ensure they are not excluded by their community. Other children have been detained by authorities as former rebel fighters. UNHCR staff have tried to accelerate due process for these children and are trying to make sure their rights are respected under international law.

UNHCR and Otunnu will discuss the need for additional support to programmes aimed at children in the region, which are in need of greater financial support. Guinea hosts around 130,000 Liberian and 350,000 Sierra Leonean refugees.