UN agency resumes repatriation by sea of Sierra Leone refugees in Liberia
The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has resumed the effort to repatriate Sierra Leonean refugees from Liberia by sea, a spokesman for the agency said today in Geneva.
Speaking to the press, Kris Janowski said UNHCR has resumed the voluntary repatriation of thousands of Sierra Leonean refugees, keen to leave Liberia because of renewed fighting over the past few weeks.
“Repatriation by sea is currently the only reasonable safe way to bring Sierra Leoneans home, as recent fighting has made overland movements unfeasible,” said Mr. Janowski.
On Sunday, a ship carrying 300 refugees arrived in Sierra Leone's capital, Freetown and another 300 people were scheduled to be picked up on Wednesday. Some 4,500 Sierra Leoneans refugees have signed up to go back and the resumed programme will repatriate about 600 people per week.
UNHCR has been considering options other than road convoys to safely repatriate refugees since the June attack on Sinje camps which had prevented its staff from travelling to the region and providing aid.
Meanwhile, repatriation of Sierra Leoneans refugees from Guinea will remain on hold for the next two or three weeks because of financial and logistical constraints, the spokesman said.