March 2001 |  Archive  |  Read article |  © Robert Knoth
reportage  Going home
white The photographer Robert Knoth followed a group of refugees
from Sierra Leone who decided to return home. They no longer
feel welcome in neighbouring Guinea and prefer to risk the
turmoil and uncertainty in their own land
white  white Back to start
Return journey Muslim refugees saying their evening prayers onboard the 'Fanta' which is taking them home. The ship was chartered by the IOM (The International Organisation for Migrations) and was repatriating about 420 people from Guinea to Sierra Leone Hostile reception Local civilians have set fire to some huts in the Katkama refugee camp, Guinea. They strongly oppose the presence of the refugees, considering them all to be RUF rebels. It is this kind of danger which has persuaded many refugees to risk returning to Sierra Leone Desperate measures Refugees from the Parrot's Beak region fighting over a food package donated by Action Contre le Faim. The refugees have been walking for days without food and have been constantly harassed by Guinean civilians and militia   Road tax Guinean army and security forces check the belongings of refugees as they are transported in an UNHCR convoy to a safer area near the northern town of Albadaria away from the dangerous border territory. The refugees often have to bribe their way safely through the checkpoints Unwanted guests Sierra Leonean refugees waiting on a UNHCR-truck for transport from Nyadou refugee camp to the Albadaria refugee-camp, around 200 kilometres to the north. The Nyadou camp has been attacked by RUF rebels and the government of Guinea wants the refugees removed from the war zone   Dangerous escape Guinean taxi drivers make good money off the refugees. Here they are waiting at Massakoundou refugee camp with some passengers for other refugees able to pay to travel to the Guinean capital of Conakry. The trip is dangerous and the refugees risk being molested and robbed at checkpoints. Homecoming A group of passengers waiting anxiously for the moment the coast of Sierra Leone comes in sight. On arrival, most refugees coming from Guinea are transferred to campsites in Waterloo, 20 miles east of Freetown. Afterwards they will go to special resettlement areas