Guinea: new rebel attack drives out 1,500
A fresh rebel attack on the Guinea town of Nongoa last Friday has driven out an estimated 1,500 refugees from the volatile Parrot's Beak region into Katkama camp, north of Guéckédou. An estimated 1,000 more fled to the town of Mongo, north of Nongoa. More refugees are said to be on their way to Katkama, or hiding in the bush. UNHCR is sending a convoy to Katkama today (Tuesday) to pick up the refugees and transfer them to the new camp of Kountaya, in Albadaria Prefecture, deeper inside Guinea. Nongoa, 27 km west of Guéckédou, was hosting an estimated 9,000 refugees at the time of Friday's attack.
In the wake of the attack, UNHCR suspended the delivery of food to refugees and displaced Guineans stranded in the Parrot's Beak because convoys must pass through Nongoa. A food distribution planned for last Friday in Nongoa had to be cancelled after distribution teams heard gunfire in the town. The attack also thwarted plans to deliver food to an estimated 30,000 refugees in Kolomba, at the tip of the Parrot's Beak. On Monday, the road was still closed and local authorities advised all humanitarian agencies to stay out of the area.
Since the beginning of the food convoys into the Parrot's Beak on 26 February, more than 35,000 people - mostly refugees but also displaced Guineans - scattered in 13 different locations throughout the region have received a 30-day WFP food ration. The UNHCR-organized convoys will resume as soon as the security situation improves.
Meanwhile, Sierra Leone refugees continue to go back to Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown, from Guinea's capital, Conakry, on boats chartered by IOM. Others are reportedly walking back. A total of 26,000 people have sailed home since mid-September. During the same period, another 14,000 arrived spontaneously on foot in Lungi, north of Freetown. They returned from camps in the Forécariah region of Guinea. A separate group of 900 refugees returned to Kabala in northern Sierra Leone from camps in Guinea's Faranah Prefecture. The returnees speak of harassment by various armed factions they encountered along the way, both on Guinean and Sierra Leonean territory.