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Liberia: repatriation from Guinea resumes

Briefing notes

Liberia: repatriation from Guinea resumes

6 June 2000

A total of 2,125 Liberian refugees returned home from Guinea with the resumption of the voluntary repatriation operation. The first movements were on 25 and 31 May and a third return convoy is scheduled for tomorrow. Those who have gone back so far went to Nimba county and Monrovia. Repatriation of Liberian refugees from Guinea was suspended in August 1999 following the closure of the Guinea-Liberia border. Between January and August 1999, UNHCR helped repatriate 6,700 Liberians.

Some 32,000 Liberian refugees have registered for voluntary repatriation this year. The volunteers are in Nzérékoré, south-eastern Guinea.

UNHCR Guinea is concerned that they may not all be able to return due to a shortage of funds. Our country representative, Mr. Chris Ache, worries that the international community is not providing enough support to bring about stability in Liberia because, he says, the stability of the subregion of West Africa depends on stability in both Sierra Leone and Liberia. UNHCR urges the international community to pay more attention to the Liberian problem as there are still 130,000 Liberian refugees in Guinea who have a strong desire to return to their country after ten years of exile.

UNHCR Guinea is not promoting repatriation for Liberian refugees from Lofa county due to insecurity in that area of Liberia. Although repatriation is voluntary, there is no UNHCR presence in Lofa and no humanitarian access to the zone. All other areas of return are safe for repatriation.

The next repatriation convoy is scheduled to leave Guinea tomorrow (7 June), with some 700 people registered. Liberian refugees first arrived in Guinea when war broke out in their country in December 1989. UNHCR wasn't able to launch a return operation until the end of 1997. At that time, there were about 400,000 Liberian refugees in Guinea. Being originally from areas in Liberia that border the refugee hosting zones in Guinea, most Liberians return spontaneously or with material assistance from UNHCR.