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Sierra Leone/Guinea: flight and internal displacement

Briefing notes

Sierra Leone/Guinea: flight and internal displacement

16 May 2000

Over the past three days, 600 Sierra Leoneans have fled to neighbouring Guinea's Forécariah province, bringing to 1,000 the number of new arrivals since fighting re-ignited in Sierra Leone earlier this month. The refugees are coming from the area of Kambia in western Sierra Leone. They say they fled fighting between Revolutionary United Front (RUF) rebels and government forces. It seems that rebels controlling the border area in Kambia have now decided to let civilians enter Guinea while concentrating on fighting government troops reportedly advancing towards Kambia from the direction of Freetown.

The refugees are being transferred to the new camp of Kalako. UNHCR has deployed more staff in Guinea's Forécariah province. We are now prepared to accommodate up to 25,000 people.

In Sierra Leone, a recent RUF attack on the Waterloo-Port Loko axis has created a displacement of civilians into Freetown. UNHCR staff estimate the number of new arrivals in the capital at 20,000, in addition to 60,000 people displaced in earlier fighting and some 6,500 refugees from neighbouring Liberia. Up to 10,000 displaced persons have also gathered near Freetown's Lungi airport, 20 km north of the city, where British paratroopers are stationed.