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Liberia: convoys to Sierra Leone continue

Briefing notes

Liberia: convoys to Sierra Leone continue

12 March 2002

Transport convoys are continuing from Sinje camp in Liberia, from Monrovia and from the Jendema crossing on the Sierra Leonean-Liberian border. The convoys are carrying Sierra Leonean returnees from Liberia as well as new Liberian refugees. A total of 6,437 people have returned from Liberia with the assistance of UNHCR since the convoys began in mid-February. During the same period, some 2,023 spontaneous returnees were also helped with transport from the border, and 3,352 Liberian refugees were relocated from Jendema. The new Liberian refugees are being taken to four settlements, including sites that were initially constructed for returnees.

UNHCR Monrovia organises three convoys a week from the Sinje and Monrovia camps, carrying an average of 2,400 passengers weekly. In addition, UNHCR Sierra Leone organises three convoys a week, providing transport to the spontaneous returnees and refugees arriving in Jendema.

Field teams estimate that about 2,000 refugees and 800 returnees are still awaiting relocation in Jendema.

With the imminent arrival of emergency team staff, UNHCR will be able to increase monitoring of non-official border crossings and install a registration system for the refugees residing in border villages. UNHCR protection staff are also participating in border monitoring patrols.

When their home areas are declared safe, returning Sierra Leonean refugees are assisted with transport and resettlement packages from UNHCR. Refugees from areas not yet declared safe have the option to temporarily stay in a settlement or to collect the resettlement package. UNHCR then provides transport to a drop-off point in a safe area close to the area of origin. Only 163 out of the 6,771 returnees relocated so far have opted to go to a settlement. The majority of the returnees opt to be transferred to the Daru drop-off point, where they receive the package and a two-months food ration provided by WFP.