Fighting in Liberia prompts refugee movements
GENEVA - Around 4,000 Liberians have fled to Côte d'Ivoire and Sierra Leone to escape fighting in Liberia, UNHCR spokesman Ron Redmond said today.
Redmond said 3,800 Liberians have gone to western Côte d'Ivoire since the situation started deteriorating in Liberia in May. The inflow has been steady at about 50 people per day. Several hundred Liberians were also reported to have sought refuge in Sierra Leone.
Arrivals from the Liberian capital, Monrovia, or Lofa County, in the north of the country, report police intimidation and forced recruitment by government forces as reasons for leaving.
Others coming from Bong Country, adjacent to Lofa, are fleeing because they fear that fighting may spread to their region - a well-known rebel stronghold. Côte d'Ivoire hosts 70,000 Liberian refugees.
The Liberian arrivals in Sierra Leone were among more than 3,000 spontaneous returns of Sierra Leonean refugees from Guinea registered in Daru, eastern Sierra Leone, this month. Also among the new arrivals were Guinean civilians recently freed by rebels of the Revolutionary United Front who abducted them earlier this year in raids inside southern Guinea.
The Sierra Leonean arrivals came from the Parrot's Beak region of Guinea. They said they returned after the camps were closed there and assistance was stopped. They did not report any harassment on the way to Daru, indicating that passage through RUF areas is now easier.