UN closes camp in Guinea after relocating refugees at Government's request

18 May 2001

The United Nations refugee agency has closed a refugee camp in Guinea at the request of the Government, which feared rebel infiltration at the site, a spokesman for the agency said today.

Kris Janowski, a spokesman for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), said the Massakoundou camp in southeastern Guinea was closed after the remaining 227 refugees were transferred to a safer area in central Guinea on Thursday.

"Since the beginning of March, over 8,000 refugees were transferred from Massakoundou to one of UNHCR's new sites in central Guinea," Mr. Janowski said, adding that several thousand had opted for repatriation by bus to Conakry and by boat to Freetown.

Having completed its relocation of all refugees from Massakoundou site, UNHCR will now return the camp and the remaining basic infrastructure to the local authorities.

The Massakoundou camp had been used as a transit point as part of the agency's massive relocation of refugees out of Guinea's troubled Parrot's Beak region. Since that effort began in early February, UNHCR has relocated some 44,000 refugees to more secure locations further inland in Guinea. Mr. Janowski predicted that the relocation operation would be completed by the end of May.


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