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UNHCR relocates refugees in Guinea

[South Africa] President Thabo Mbeki. Jacoline Prinsloo
South African President Thabo Mbeki
UNHCR said it had started relocating 50,000 Sierra Leonean and Liberian refugees from six camps near the Sierra Leone border to safer locations further inland. A UNHCR spokesman told IRIN on Thursday that the US $4 million operation had started on Monday and was expected to take up to four months. The six camps being vacated at Dakongo, Yaegbadou, Konin, Sowadou, Komandou and Gelema were considered vulnerable to rebel attacks and infiltration. He said the government had expressed its concern about the situation during a recent visit by Sadako Ogata, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees. Abou Moussa, UNHCR Regional Director for West and Central Africa, said: "The decision to relocate the refugees corresponds with the wish of the Guinean authorities and UNHCR to avoid casualties among refugees during violent incursions by rebels from Sierra Leone." The transfer was in conformity with the OAU convention on refugees which recommends settlements 50 km from the nearest border, he added. The refugees would be housed in Katkama in Gueckedou prefecture in southwest Guinea. The spokesman said there was a total of about 350,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea of whom about 210,000 are already in Gueckedou area. Most fled last year when rebels, expelled from the capital Freetown, went on the rampage with a campaign of amputations and mutilation in the countryside.

This article was produced by IRIN News while it was part of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs. Please send queries on copyright or liability to the UN. For more information:

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