Guinea: transfer of Liberian refugees inland resumes
UNHCR last week resumed the transfer of Liberian refugees from the Tekoulo transit centre near Guéckédou in southern Guinea to two camps in the interior of the country. The transfer had been interrupted on September 25 to allow some time for road repairs and security screening of refugees. Last Friday and Saturday, a total of 845 Liberian refugees were transferred from the volatile border area to the relative safety of the established camps in the Albadariah area further inland. The refugees spent more than a month in the Tekoulo transit centre where conditions are dire. The centre has limited health facilities. It has no schools or activities for children. It has also seen cases of malnutrition and skin diseases. There are still a few hundred refugees in the Tekoulo centre and UNHCR will complete their transfer this week.
So far this year, the renewed crisis in Liberia has prompted nearly 40,000 new Liberian refugees to flee to Guinea. Another 50,000 have fled to Sierra Leone and 17,000 to Côte d'Ivoire. UNHCR is requesting an additional US $ 3.8 million this year, on top of $ 10.4 million already received, to help Liberia's neighbours cope with the new arrivals.
Meanwhile, the repatriation of Sierra Leoneans from Guinea has been suspended at least until the end of the year due to financial constraints. In little more than a year, UNHCR had been able to repatriate over 20,000 Sierra Leoneans from Guinea's Albadariah camps. Since September 2000, a total of 50,000 Sierra Leoneans have been brought home from Guinea alone. Some 40,000 Sierra Leoneans remain in refugee camps in Guinea.
In Sierra Leone, UNHCR assists a total of 120,000 returnees from the entire region out of an estimated total of nearly 200,000 who have returned in the past two years.