On Wednesday a group of 269 refugees bid an emotional farewell to their hosts, UNHCR spokesman Kris Janowski told reporters in Geneva today. “The members of the group were heading to their final destination in Kailahun and Kono districts, after staying in the host community for more than a year,” he said.They had fled the area when rebels took control of it more than a year ago, the spokesman noted, adding that the group had made an earlier trip home, but retreated to host communities in Guinea because of violence in the region.A repatriation programme by sea for Sierra Leoneans in Liberia was also continuing, Mr. Janowski said. This week, a boat transporting returnees docked in Freetown. It was the fourth boat UNHCR has sent since 20 July, bringing a total of 1,222 people to their homeland.The UN refugee agency has arranged for more than 10,000 Sierra Leoneans to return home after living in host communities north of Freetown since last year. Since September 2000, about 100,000 people fled to Guinea and Liberia. Since then, UNHCR has helped more than 80 per cent of them return home.

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