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Guinea: Massakoundou camp closed

Briefing notes

Guinea: Massakoundou camp closed

18 May 2001

UNHCR this week closed the Massakoundou camp, near Kissidougou in south-eastern Guinea, heeding a long-standing request by the local authorities who feared rebel infiltration in the camp. On Thursday, the last convoy transferred the remaining 227 refugees to the northern Sembakounya camp in Dabola Prefecture, central Guinea. Since the beginning of March, over 8,000 refugees were transferred from Massakoundou to one of UNHCR's new sites in central Guinea, while several thousand opted for repatriation by bus to Conakry and by UNHCR/IOM boat to Freetown. UNHCR will now return the Massakoundou site and the remaining basic infrastructure to the local authorities.

UNHCR has now relocated some 44,000 refugees from Guinea's troubled Parrot's Beak region, since the relocation movement began in early February. Many of them had left the area on foot, following attacks between December and March in the Guéckédou and Nongoa areas. They were picked up by UNHCR trucks from camps situated at the northern edge of the Parrot's Beak. In the past two weeks UNHCR has also gone into the Parrot's Beak itself and removed over 5,000 refugees from Kolomba and other camps. UNHCR information teams spent most of this week visiting camps immediately south-west of Guéckédou to agree on a relocation schedule with refugees still in the area. According to the new arrangements, UNHCR will send 44 trucks on Saturday to Fangamadou camp at the centre of the Parrot's Beak to bring out some 2,000 refugees who have agreed to be moved out of the area. More convoys will be sent to smaller sites and camps every day next week. The relocation operation is still expected to be completed by the end of May.

In Forécariah, south-east of Conakry, UNHCR has continued to register refugees for repatriation to Sierra Leone's capital, Freeetown. A total of 249 refugees who registered for return to Sierra Leone left the camp this morning for Conakry where they will be assisted home aboard boats organised by IOM. At the same time a relocation convoy is planned for Sunday to transfer refugees to Sembakounya camp in Dabola prefecture. A group of 27 Sierra Leoneans also left Conakry on a commercial flight to Sweden this week, as part of a UNHCR resettlement programme. This group was the second of a total of 105 who have been accepted by Sweden for resettlement. The group is composed of vulnerable individuals and families including several women-headed households who were victims of attacks, torture and rape during the ten-year civil war in Sierra Leone and who cannot return to their country.