Hundreds of Liberian refugees continue to flee into Guinea, fearing persistent fighting between government and rebel forces in the central part of the country despite an overall improvement in the security situation, the United Nations refugee agency said today.
The UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said it registered 500 Liberian arrivals this week at the Guinean border areas of Bignamou and another 760 at Baala. The departures were fed by reports that rebels were harassing civilians, looting, and raping women. There were also unconfirmed reports of summary executions.
Rebels of the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD) have been battling government forces in nearby Bong and Nimba counties, prompting an influx of more than 6,000 Liberians into Guinea over the past two weeks, UNHCR said. Of these, 3,700 arrivals have registered with the UN agency, while some of the Liberians were reportedly going back and forth across the border.
A UN inter-agency mission set out today from Monrovia to Gbarnga, the main town in Bong 180 kilometres to the northeast, to look into the situation in the region, UNHCR said.
Meanwhile in the eastern part of the country, Liberian refugees have been trickling back from Côte d'Ivoire since the situation improved following the deployment of a West African force of 3,500 troops and President Charles Taylor’s departure in August. Between 3,000 and 4,000 Liberians were reported to have returned to Grande Gedeh County from Côte d'Ivoire, which hosts 52,000 of the 315,000 Liberian refugees in West Africa.