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Assistant High Commissioner travels to West Africa

Briefing notes

Assistant High Commissioner travels to West Africa

5 March 2002

Assistant High Commissioner Kamel Morjane left Geneva this morning for West Africa on a four-day mission aimed at getting a first-hand view of efforts planned or now under way to strengthen the protection of children in refugee camps in the region.

Morjane, UNHCR's No. 3 official, is scheduled to arrive in Conakry, Guinea, this evening and will remain in Guinea until Friday morning, when he travels to Freetown, Sierra Leone. He is scheduled to depart Freetown on Saturday.

At the request of High Commissioner Ruud Lubbers, the Assistant High Commissioner will review actions planned and already undertaken to strengthen the protection of young refugees following allegations of exploitation by aid workers using humanitarian assistance in exchange for sexual favours. The allegations have prompted an investigation

Morjane will not be going to Liberia, which is currently facing renewed conflict and displacement. UNHCR staff in Liberia and Sierra Leone are grappling with a new flow of more than 10,000 Liberian refugees, as well as more than 7,000 Sierra Leonean refugees who have returned in recent weeks. Thrice-weekly repatriation convoys continue from Liberia, as do new arrivals of Liberians - mostly in the Sierra Leonean border town of Jendema.

Additional emergency staff arrived in Sierra Leone today, bringing to 15 the number of staff deployed since last week. Another eight staff are expected to arrive this week.