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Refugees React to Upcoming Sierra Leone Elections - 2002-05-03

The UN refugee agency, the UNHCR, says the repatriation of Sierra Leonean refugees has slowed as the May 14th elections approach. Spokeswoman Delphine Marie, in Geneva, says thousands of refugees in neighboring countries are taking a “wait and see” attitude. She says they want to make sure there is no pre or post election violence.

There are an estimated 165-thousand Sierra Leonean refugees in the sub-region. Most, about 95-thousand, are in Guinea. The UNHCR says, “during the first months of the year, nearly 30-thousand refugees have been able to return home.

Since September, the agency says it has “registered and facilitated the return of nearly 90-thousand Sierra Leonean refugees, mainly from Guinea and Liberia. It says another 70-thousand believe are believed to have returned on their own, bringing the total to 160-thousand returnees. Delphine Marie spoke to English to Africa reporter Joe De Capua