Guinea: 4,000 evacuated so far
More than 4,000 refugees have so far been evacuated from Guinea's remote Parrot's Beak region since the start last Wednesday of a massive relocation operation aimed at moving them away from insecure border areas to camps in the interior of Guinea. The refugees are being transferred first to the Katkama transit camp, north of Guéckédou, for two to three days before being taken to one of the new sites set up by UNHCR further inland in Albadaria and Dabola Prefectures.
Yesterday (Monday), a total of 995 refugees were evacuated from Kolomba camp, at the furthest tip of the Parrot's Beak - a thumb of Guinean territory jutting into Sierra Leone. Up to 30,000 refugees, mostly Sierra Leoneans, are believed to be in the Kolomba area. The increasing pace of the relocation movement was temporarily disrupted on Sunday when twenty refugee staff of the International Rescue Committee were detained for allegedly spreading rumours that Kolomba was going to be attacked. The refugee workers denied the charges and were later released. Because of the incident, only 308 refugees were transferred from the remote camp on Sunday.
UNHCR will continue sending trucks to Kolomba until all refugees who are willing to leave the area have been transferred. An information team will travel to neighbouring camps and villages to inform refugees about registration and the transfer schedule. UNHCR hopes to start sending trucks to neighbouring camps in the Parrot's Beak this week.
The construction of transit facilities in Katkama camp has now been completed. These include facilities for medical screening and a canteen run by IRC to provide to the refugees in transit, two hot meals upon arrival. Temporary accommodation in hangars has also been set up. WFP is also providing ten-day food rations for the refugees in transit. UNHCR will try to keep up the pace of convoys from Katkama transit centre to avoid congestion at the camp. On Monday, 650 refugees, including 613 from Kolomba, were transferred from Katkama to Kountaya camp further north.
Meanwhile, relocation from Massakoundou camp, near UNHCR's operational base in Kissidougou, continues. The authorities have repeatedly asked that the camp be closed for security reasons, because they fear the infiltration of rebels. On Monday, a convoy carrying close to 500 people from Massakoundou went to Sembakounya, in Dabola Prefecture. There are an estimated 2,000-3,000 people remaining in Massakoundou.
In all, the total number of people relocated from Massakoundou, from other camps and from the Parrot's Beak region to the new sites further inland amount to 37,370. The capacity of the new sites is being regularly increased to keep up with the pace of the relocation exercise. Those arriving at the new sites are allocated a plot of land for construction of a shelter. They receive a settlement kit and tools. WFP food is distributed regularly.