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UN environmental assessment mission concludes work in Guinea

A United Nations mission assessing possible environmental impact of refugees in Guinea has concluded field work and is expected to present its findings to Secretary-General Kofi Annan, a UN spokesman said today.
The two-week mission from the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) examined the problems of deforestation, erosion, unsustainable land use, sanitation and waste management, particularly in urban centres.

The problems associated with the influx of refugees in the forest areas close to the Guinean border, was the subject of talks earlier this year between Secretary-General Kofi Annan and government officials from Guinea, according to the UN spokesman.

On Secretary-General's request, Klaus Toepfer, UNEP Executive Director, sought and received assistance from the World Bank, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) and the UN Development Programme (UNDP). UNHCR and the UN Center for Human Settlements (Habitat) joined UNEP as partners in the assessment mission.

According to UNHCR figures, Guinea hosts the largest number of refugees in Africa -- approximately 450,000, mainly from neighboring Sierra Leone and Liberia.