Renewed fighting drives 3,000 Liberian refugees into Sierra Leone – UN

8 October 2002

Renewed fighting in Liberia has driven about 3,000 more refugees into neighbouring Sierra Leone, bringing to 16,000 the number living along the precarious border between the two countries, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

Renewed fighting in Liberia has driven about 3,000 more refugees into neighbouring Sierra Leone, bringing to 16,000 the number living along the precarious border between the two countries, the United Nations High Commission on Refugees (UNHCR) said today.

Last week’s influx from Liberia’s upper Lofa County into Sierra Leone’s Kailahun district was believed to have been linked to series of clashes between government forces and the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) rebels over the disputed town of Kolahun, a spokesperson for UNHCR said at a press briefing in Geneva.

As with previous influxes since Liberia’s civil war intensified earlier this year, the refugees were mostly women and children and in poor physical condition, spokesperson Delphine Marie said. UNHCR began to transfer the new arrivals away from the border last Thursday, and medical screening had identified 60 vulnerable cases, including malnourished children.

Of the 60,000 refugees who fled fighting in Liberia for Sierra Leone, 46,000 arrived this year alone, UNHCR said, adding that 38,000 were living in camps, 16,000 were awaiting transfer at the border while 8,000 were living in urban areas.

The agency said it was struggling to mobilize resources, including trucks provided by the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL), and additional registration and protection staff from its own offices in Freetown and Kenema.

 

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