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Liberia: tens of thousands reported displaced by new fighting

Briefing notes

Liberia: tens of thousands reported displaced by new fighting

29 January 2002

A new outbreak of fighting in Liberia's Sawmill area, 100 km north of the capital, Monrovia, has reportedly displaced tens of thousands of people. Those uprooted by the fighting include Liberians but also Sierra Leonean refugees who had sought refuge in Liberia. The people who fled the fighting have now gathered at Klay Junction, some 35 km outside Monrovia. There could be as many as 100,000 displaced people in Klay, according to government figures. Among the displaced are Sierra Leonean refugees who were living in Lofa and Gbarpolu counties and who are now fleeing the fighting and joining existing camp populations. Since fighting intensified in Liberia's northern counties in December, more than 6,000 new arrivals have been registered by UNHCR in various camps around Monrovia, including Sinje, VOA, Samukai town and Banjor. Although there were initial reports of refugees packing their bags in Sinje camp and getting ready to go back to Sierra Leone, a visit yesterday to Sinje by UNHCR officials helped to calm the situation in the camp. Refugee leaders were taken to Monrovia to attend a meeting on the planned repatriation to Sierra Leone. UNHCR was to go to the camp again today. A pre-registration campaign in Liberia's six camps for Sierra Leonean refugees, which started in early January, has already recorded almost 6,000 candidates for return. A proper registration campaign will follow shortly, before a larger scale return can begin.