Clashes in Liberia prevent Sierra Leone repatriation: UN refugee agency
A convoy initially planned for 20 June to return refugees currently in the Sinje refugee camps - some 40 kilometres inside Liberia - has been postponed because staff from the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) were unable to travel to the camps yesterday, spokesman Kris Janowski said at a press briefing in Geneva.
"UNHCR staff tried to drive to Sinje from the [Liberian] capital, Monrovia yesterday," Mr. Janowski explained, "to register refugees willing to go back. However, our vehicles were turned back by government soldiers who cited fighting along the road."
UNHCR is currently looking at other options for the voluntary repatriation, such as transporting the refugees by sea, or on convoys of trucks sent directly from Sierra Leone along a relatively safe stretch of the road, he added.
Liberia is hosting 36,000 refugees from Sierra Leone in camps, in addition to an estimated 31,000 living among the local population, according to UNHCR. Some 11,000 are currently in camps in the Sinje region. The agency expects that the majority will return to Sierra Leone, once conditions are safe.