Deputy High Commissioner in West Africa
On his first survey of field operations since assuming the functions of Deputy High Commissioner in August, Frederick Barton arrived Tuesday in Conakry for a 10-day visit to Guinea, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Côte d'Ivoire.
Barton met Wednesday with the Guinean Prime Minister and other key government figures. Talks centered on initiatives to promote peace and security in the region, which accounts for more than 650,000 refugees, hosted mainly by Guinea. Barton then travelled to Sierra Leonean camps in Guéckédou, in south-east Guinea, where refugees who greeted the High Commissioner with cries of "We want peace" during her visit in February of this year, sang about wanting to return home.
Although the Sierra Leonean cease-fire appears to be holding, UNHCR staff report that only a few thousand former refugees in Liberia, prompted by insecurity there, have so far repatriated.
This morning Barton is flying to Freetown and will meet with President Kabbah and Saturday with Foday Sankoh and Johnny Paul Koroma, two former rebel leaders who were brought into the government in the 7 July power-sharing deal.