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Liberian rebels overrun another Monrovia camp

Liberian rebels overrun another Monrovia camp

Fighting around the Liberian capital has spread to Samukai camp - home of more than 3,500 Sierra Leonean refugees, some of whom had been due to leave in an emergency sea evacuation to Freetown
29 July 2003

MONROVIA, Liberia, July 29 (UNHCR) - Rebel fighting has spread to another camp in Monrovia, dispersing thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees, some of whom had been set for evacuation from the strife-torn Liberian capital.

Over the weekend, fighting spread to the Samukai area on the outskirts of Monrovia and overran a camp hosting more than 3,500 Sierra Leonean refugees. Some refugees had fled before the rebel advance, while others were reportedly advised by the rebels to leave the area before an anticipated counter-attack by government forces.

Some UNHCR staff living in the area have also fled their homes.

Among those refugees displaced from Samukai camp, some had registered to be repatriated by ship to Freetown. But the MV Overbeck - which had evacuated 1,250 Sierra Leonean refugees in four voyages - was unable to dock in Monrovia's port for the fifth voyage on July 20 due to renewed fighting that had broken out in the Liberian capital two days before.

The UNHCR-chartered ship is standing by in Freetown to resume evacuation once the security situation allows.

In the meantime, Samukai camp's displaced refugees have joined thousands of others who fled when fighting engulfed VOA camp in early June. Many are seeking shelter in public buildings in the centre of Monrovia, including at UNHCR's compound, where nearly 900 people - 650 refugees, as well as displaced Liberians and other West African nationals - have been encamped for more than a week.