Hostages left dazed but cheerful

THE FOUR Britons freed by rebels in Liberia at the weekend were receiving counselling yesterday at a luxury hotel in the Guinean capital, Conakry, and are expected to arrive back in Britain tomorrow.

Mike Roe, David Heed, Sara Nam and Peter Colenso, phoned home, took showers and slept in real beds for the first time in five days after they arrived in Conakry late on Saturday. They were flown to the Guinean capital with a Norwegian and an Italian aid worker after being freed on Friday night by Liberian rebels.

The fate of another 90 people - all African UN officials, who were allowed by the rebels to cross into Guinea late on Friday - remained unclear.

Choosing to speak to the press through representatives after their arrival in Conakry on Saturday night, the dazed and tearful Britons - three from the medial charity, Merlin, and one from the International Rescue Committee - reported that they had been well treated but were looking forward to a good meal.

"They are amazingly cheerful," said Patrick O'Brien, the British charge d'affaires who flew to far eastern Guinea to collect them on a 13-seater. "They have shown true British grit and I am very impressed."

The six aid workers were being offered an "emotional debriefing", said Francoise Saibe, a spokeswoman for Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF), which organised the airlift from Kissidougou.

"We are a little concerned that, even though they are OK, they will feel guilty about the people they left behind," she said. Emotional debriefing, by two experts from Brussels, had been standard practice for MSF staff who had undergone trauma ever since the Rwandan genocide. The Italian and Norwegian both work for MSF.

"The idea is to keep them together for a while, because they experienced this thing as a group, and to allow them to talk about their feelings in a safe environment," she said.

The West Africa director of IRC, Sue Dwyer, said she expects them to "elaborate in due course" on their experience.

They are likely to fly back to Europe on a Sabena flight which arrives in Brussels first thing on Tuesday.

The Merlin, MSF and IRC workers had been doing relief work in Kalahun, Liberia, for refugees who have escaped fighting in Sierra Leone.

The jungle region in the border area between Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea is notoriously volatile and there has been sporadic fighting there for years. Last week, Liberia launched an offensive against what it claims was a two-pronged rebel attack in to its territory.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
Ben Little, right, is a Labour supporter while Jonathan Rogers supports the Green Party
general election 2015
News
The 91st Hakone Ekiden Qualifier at Showa Kinen Park, Tokyo, 2014
news
Life and Style
Buyers of secondhand cars are searching out shades last seen in cop show ‘The Sweeney’
motoringFlares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
News
Kim Wilde began gardening in the 1990s when she moved to the countryside
peopleThe singer is leading an appeal for the charity Thrive, which uses the therapy of horticulture
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Project Implementation Executive

£18000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Day In a Page

NHS struggling to monitor the safety and efficacy of its services outsourced to private providers

Who's monitoring the outsourced NHS services?

A report finds that private firms are not being properly assessed for their quality of care
Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

Zac Goldsmith: 'I'll trigger a by-election over Heathrow'

The Tory MP said he did not want to stand again unless his party's manifesto ruled out a third runway. But he's doing so. Watch this space
How do Greek voters feel about Syriza's backtracking on its anti-austerity pledge?

How do Greeks feel about Syriza?

Five voters from different backgrounds tell us what they expect from Syriza's charismatic leader Alexis Tsipras
From Iraq to Libya and Syria: The wars that come back to haunt us

The wars that come back to haunt us

David Cameron should not escape blame for his role in conflicts that are still raging, argues Patrick Cockburn
Sam Baker and Lauren Laverne: Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

Too busy to surf? Head to The Pool

A new website is trying to declutter the internet to help busy women. Holly Williams meets the founders
Heston Blumenthal to cook up a spice odyssey for British astronaut manning the International Space Station

UK's Major Tum to blast off on a spice odyssey

Nothing but the best for British astronaut as chef Heston Blumenthal cooks up his rations
John Harrison's 'longitude' clock sets new record - 300 years on

‘Longitude’ clock sets new record - 300 years on

Greenwich horologists celebrate as it keeps to within a second of real time over a 100-day test
Fears in the US of being outgunned in the vital propaganda wars by Russia, China - and even Isis - have prompted a rethink on overseas broadcasters

Let the propaganda wars begin - again

'Accurate, objective, comprehensive': that was Voice of America's creed, but now its masters want it to promote US policy, reports Rupert Cornwell
Why Japan's incredible long-distance runners will never win the London Marathon

Japan's incredible long-distance runners

Every year, Japanese long-distance runners post some of the world's fastest times – yet, come next weekend, not a single elite competitor from the country will be at the London Marathon
Why does Tom Drury remain the greatest writer you've never heard of?

Tom Drury: The quiet American

His debut was considered one of the finest novels of the past 50 years, and he is every bit the equal of his contemporaries, Jonathan Franzen, Dave Eggers and David Foster Wallace
You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

You should judge a person by how they peel a potato

Dave Hax's domestic tips are reminiscent of George Orwell's tea routine. The world might need revolution, but we like to sweat the small stuff, says DJ Taylor
Beige is back: The drab car colours of the 1970s are proving popular again

Beige to the future

Flares and flounce are back on catwalks but a revival in ’70s car paintjobs was a stack-heeled step too far – until now
Bill Granger recipes: Our chef's dishes highlight the delicate essence of fresh cheeses

Bill Granger cooks with fresh cheeses

More delicate on the palate, milder, fresh cheeses can also be kinder to the waistline
Aston Villa vs Liverpool: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful,' says veteran Shay Given

Shay Given: 'This FA Cup run has been wonderful'

The Villa keeper has been overlooked for a long time and has unhappy memories of the national stadium – but he is savouring his chance to play at Wembley
Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own - Michael Calvin

Michael Calvin's Last Word

Timeless drama of Championship race in league of its own