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Sierra Leone: repatriation from Guinea completed

Briefing notes

Sierra Leone: repatriation from Guinea completed

9 August 2002

UNHCR this week completed the return of Sierra Leonean refugees from Guinea to their original homes in Sierra Leone. They had earlier returned to Sierra Leone but had to be temporarily accommodated in host communities until their places of origin were safe enough to go back to.

A last group of 269 Sierra Leoneans departed the Barri chiefdom town of Potoru, in Pujehun district on Wednesday, bidding an emotional farewell to their hosts. The members of the group were heading to their final destination in Kailahun and Kono districts, after staying in the host community for more than a year.

UNHCR had helped more than 10,000 Sierra Leoneans settle in the Barri chiefdom between March 2001 and February 2002, when returnees from Guinea could not go back to Kono and Kailahun which were still under rebel control.

UNHCR assisted returnees in host communities close to their homes with shelter material, schooling and medical care. The host communities will be able to use some of the newly-built facilities, including wells and latrines.

UNHCR last year had also moved more than 10,000 residents of the other host community project, in Lokomassama chiefdom, north of Freetown, back home. Today, virtually all returnees have been moved away from other temporary resettlement and transit camps.

Since September 2000, UNHCR has helped more than 80,000 returnees settle back home, out of a total of 100,000 who are known to have repatriated from Guinea and Liberia.

Repatriation by sea is also continuing from Liberia, with a fourth boat docking in Freetown on Monday this week, bringing to 1,222 the total repatriated from Liberia since the beginning of the sea operation on July 20.