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Thursday, 12 October, 2000, 18:14 GMT
Liberian refugees return from Guinea
Liberian refugees fleeing Liberia
Thousands of Liberians fled the country during the civil war
The first group of Liberian refugees repatriated from Guinea have arrived home, as border clashes between the two countries intensified.

More than 400 refugees arrived in the capital, Monrovia, following a two-day sea voyage.

Correspondents say many of the refugees complained of being beaten and raped by Guineans.

Guinea is home to an estimated 126,000 Liberian refugees who fled the civil war which ended in 1997.

It also hosts some 340,000 refugees from Sierra Leone's own civil war, some of whom have also headed home amid reports of attacks by security forces and vigilante groups.

Repatriation flights

In September, human rights groups reported that security forces in the Guinean capital, Conakry, had rounded up thousands of Liberian, Sierra Leonean and Burkinabe refugees, beating and raping scores of them.



"I was raped by Guinean men on 16 September," one of the returning refugees, Patricia Williams, told reporters on arrival in Monrovia.

The refugees were met by Vice-President Moses Blah.

The Liberian Government had previously accused Guinea of hindering the evacuation by denying landing rights for repatriation flights.

Liberia announced the repatriation last month after President Lansana Conte of Guinea accused refugees in the south-west of the country of fuelling a rebellion.

The two West African countries accuse each other of supporting rebels launching cross-border raids.

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See also:

30 Sep 00 | Africa
Attack in Guinea kills nearly 70
25 Sep 00 | Africa
Liberia turns up the heat
15 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea: Crisis long in the making
12 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea refugee tension rises
10 Sep 00 | Africa
No halt to Guinea crackdown
12 Sep 00 | Africa
Guinea's opposition leader jailed
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