HC Deb 14 March 2001 vol 364 cc660-1W
23. Mr. David Heath

To ask the Secretary of State for International Development if she will make a statement on the humanitarian situation in Guinea. [152231]

Clare Short

There are around 420,000 refugees from Sierra Leone and Liberia in Guinea, most having been there for a number of years. Around 135,000 Sierra Leonean refugees are located in an area known as the Parrot's Beak, adjoining the southern border. This area also contains a significant number of internally displaced (1DPs) Guineans. Over the last few months, camps, villages and towns there have been attacked frequently by Revolutionary United Front and other rebel groups from Sierra Leone and Liberia. Refugees and IDPs have also been innocent victims of action taken by the Guinean army to repulse the rebels.

At present, the situation in the area is calmer. The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) is starting to evacuate refugees from the Parrot's Beak, and take them to places of safety further away from the border region. At the same time, UNHCR is continuing to assist with the voluntary repatriation of refugees from Conakry to Sierra Leone, currently ruining at about 1,000 a week.

Since December 2000, DFID has pledged more than £12 million to help in this work. We are also working with the Government of Sierra Leone to create the conditions needed for more extensive repatriation, first and foremost better security.

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