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UNHCR completes repatriation flights

The last of 4,556 Sierra Leonean professionals and students living as refugees in Guinea have been airlifted to Freetown, their capital, the UNHCR reported yesterday in a statement.

The last 110 refugees arrived on Thursday on board aircraft chartered for the operation which began on 9 August, at the request of the Sierra Leonean government. The professionals included doctors, nurses and teachers urgently needed by the government to rebuild the war-torn country. Students were also included in the airlift which operated out of Kissidougou, in Guinea’s southern forest region.

The returnees, among the estimated 350,000 Sierra Leonean refugees in Guinea, were taken from camps in Guekedou, about 30 km from Sierra Leone’s eastern border. UNHCR said that another 90,000 Sierra Leoneans refugees remained in Liberia. “Their voluntary repatriation is not foreseen for the time being as the areas in Sierra Leone from which they originate are largely unstable,” it said.

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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