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Tuesday, 26 December, 2000, 21:45 GMT
Famine warning in Guinea
Refugees in Guinea
Guinea is home to thousands of Liberian refugees
Two refugee camps in Guinea have been burned to the ground amid warnings of a growing risk of famine in the country.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees reported that most refugees have fled the camps near the town of Gueckedou in the south-east of the country after fighting between the government and rebel forces.

On Monday, French ambassador Denis Gauer reported widespread devastation around Gueckedou, Kissidougou and Macenta and that most of the population appeared to have left the region.


The area has been ravaged by fighting between government troops and rebels launching attacks from neighbouring Sierra Leone and Liberia.

Mr Gauer, who had been touring the forested regions near the borders with Liberia and Sierra Leone, said he had witnessed "great human suffering."

In one case, Mr Gauer said he witnessed more than 20,000 refugees crammed into the confined space of a school, where they had been staying for a week without any aid.

Famine risk

"The risk of famine is enormous," he said. At least 900 people are thought to have been killed in the latest outbreak of fighting.

On Tuesday, the UNHCR reported up to 23,000 refugees crammed into Nyaedou camp, about 15 km (9 miles) north of Gueckedou.

Officials warn that they anticipate a new movement of refugees moving northwards, towards the towns of Massakoundou and Kissidougou.

Guinea is already home to about 460,000 refugees from conflicts in Liberia and Sierra Leone during much of the 1990s.

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See also:

20 Dec 00 | Africa
UN finds 'lost' refugees
23 Oct 00 | Africa
Civil war fears in Guinea
15 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea: Crisis long in the making
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