After independence, Guineans left the country in increasing numbers, mostly for Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. In the early and mid-1980s, probably 2 million Guineans were living abroad, perhaps half of them in Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. Many of them returned after the end of the Sékou Touré regime in 1984.
In 1997, Guinea had the highest number of refugees of any West African nation. There were around 420,000 Liberians and around 250,000 from Sierra Leone in Guinea. These refugees escaped from the fighting in their respective countries. The voluntary repatriation program begun for Liberians in March 1998 was suspended at the resumption of fighting. Out of the 120,000 who opted for repatriation, some 80,000 were returned before the Guinean-Liberian border was closed. In 2000, conditions in Sierra Leone were not yet conducive to repatriation and 150,000 refugees from that nation remain in Guinea. The total number of refugees remaining in Guinea in 2000 was 427,200. In that year the net migration rate was -6.2 migrants per 1,000 population. The government views the migration levels as satisfactory.