Kofi Annan cautions against return of Sierra Leone refugees

Freetown- Sierra Leone (PANA) -- UN Secretary General Kofi Annan has described the security situation in Sierra Leone as "fragile," cautioning that "for the time being the conditions for the immediate return of all refugees to Sierra Leone do not exist.
" The implication was for governments region, the UNHCR and other organisations to "continue their efforts to ensure the protection, safety and well being of refugees and internally displaced persons on their territory.
" Annan's sentiments were relayed in Freetown at a press briefing granted by the UN Mission in Sierra Leone (UNAMSIL).
Annan was cited as noting that "large parts of the Sierra Leonean territory remain under rebel control and beyond the reach of humanitarian aid and government services.
" UNAMSIL spokesperson Marget Novicki, said Annan also expressed fears about the armed conflict in neighbouring Liberia rippling into wider disturbances in the sub region.
Addressing a Security Council session on Sierra Leon, the UN Secretary General is said to have stressed that "while recent events in Sierra Leone may give rise to cautious optimism, the fighting in Northern Liberia could lead to a serious political and humanitarian crisis which has already led to new and increased flows of refugees and displaced persons.

01 june 2001 22:30:00

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