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Guinea: boat returns of Sierra Leoneans to intensify

Briefing notes

Guinea: boat returns of Sierra Leoneans to intensify

22 January 2001

Boat returns from Conakry to Freetown are due to intensify today with the deployment of a second UNHCR/IOM vessel transporting Sierra Leonean refugees back home. The "Fanta" and the "Overbeck" will transport 500 and 350 persons respectively with daily departures planned, except Mondays. This will increase the total number of arrivals in Freetown from an average of 1,400 to 2,550 per week. Since the beginning of the boat-lift in late December, UNHCR and IOM have helped 4,700 former Sierra Leonean refugees return to Freetown.

In Freetown, the transit centres are rapidly filling up. More space is needed for returnees originating from insecure areas of Sierra Leone to which they cannot immediately return. After several building extensions to the existing two transit centres, UNHCR today opens a third transit centre at Lumpa, near Freetown. Lumpa will initially accommodate 1,000 people but its final capacity will rapidly increase to between 5,000 and 6,000. The two existing centres are Waterloo and Jui, which house a total of 2,265 people.