Aid agencies warn of Sierra Leone refugee crisis

Aid agencies in West Africa are struggling to relocate 200,000 refugees forced to flee camps in Guinea following rebel attacks from neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Aid agencies in West Africa are struggling to relocate 200,000 refugees forced to flee camps in Guinea following rebel attacks from neighbouring Sierra Leone.

Thousands of refugees have crossed the border from Sierra Leone to escape attacks by anti-Government rebels, The Revolutionary United Front.

Richard Platt, from UK Christian relief and development agency Tearfund, warned the region could be about to witness a very serious humanitarian disaster.

He said: "These people are in fear of their lives and aid agencies haven't been able to support them in the last two months because it's been too dangerous .

"The rebels have been coming across the border attacking and burning camps. The threat is there and people are very frightened. There are also reports of atrocities being committed by the rebels".

Mr Platt yesterday came across 4,000 to 5,000 people who had fled a refugee camp. He said they were hungry, frightened and desperate to be repatriated in Sierra Leone.

The aid agencies now have a huge task in trying to relocate the estimated 200,000 refugees in new camps, both within Guinea and Sierra Leone.

The United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) has recently dispatched three emergency response teams to the area.

The organisation's operations in Guinea have been severely restricted since September when a staff member was killed in the violence.

Fighting intensified in early December, further affecting access to up to 300,000 refugees in the Gueckedou-Kissidougou area.

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