Sunday, June 24, 2007

Last of Liberian refugees to exit Sierra Leone

Freetown - A UN-backed voluntary repatriation exercise to return Liberian refugees from Sierra Leone will wind up next week, a UN High Commission for Refugee official said on Friday.
"Since we began repatriating Liberians, about 47 769 have been sent back and the last batch of 300 are expected to return at the end of the month when our programme lapses," UNHCR representative Elike Segbo told a news conference.
Of the group, 16 000 Liberian refugees were resettled in third countries, notably the United States, Canada and Australia, he said.
Sierra Leone was host to more than 54 000 Liberians who fled a 14-year civil war which ended in the nearby country in 2003.

Fourteen years of vicious civil war left no corner of the tiny west African country unscathed and claimed hundreds of thousands of lives.
At the height of the Liberian crisis, about 850 000 people were displaced by violence, the majority of whom sought asylum in neighbouring countries.
Last year about 169 000 registered Liberian refugees remained in various countries across west Africa.

IOL: Last of Liberian refugees to exit S Leone