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LIVE FROM THE HEADLINES

Nigerian Peacekeepers Arrive in Liberia

Aired August 4, 2003 - 19:14   ET

THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.

ANDERSON COOPER, CNN ANCHOR: Turning now to the push for peace in Liberia. Tonight, nearly 300 Nigerian peacekeepers have arrived, trying to put a stop to almost 14 years of bloody civil war.
Now, the troops are in the capital city, Monrovia. They are the first of a promised 3,000 strong peacekeeping force.

Jeff Koinange has more.

(BEGIN VIDEOTAPE)

JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): A sight many here never thought they'd live to see: the arrival of long awaited peacekeepers.

Arriving in heavy rain shower, these are Nigerian soldiers, veterans of numerous African civil wars, who will serve as the core of what's called in diplomatic speak, Echo Mill.

And they waited no time getting acquainted with their new terrain, quickly forming a tight perimeter around the airport.

A few hundred Liberians, already accustomed to tough times, ignored the weather and instead turned the occasion into one of instant celebration. For now, the most serious threat faced by the Nigerians seemed to be the overly enthusiastic Liberians.

Liberian government officials seemed just as glad to finally have peacekeepers on the ground.

BANIEL CHEA, LIBERIAN DEFENSE MINISTER: We'll do everything in the government to support their endeavor.

KOINANGE (on camera): Only 300 peace keepers to begin with. But many more hundreds in the coming days as the Echo Mill peacekeeping mission officially gets under way in an effort to bring lasting peace to this war-ravaged nation.

(voice-over) These displaced Liberians are just a fraction of the tens of thousands who fled their homes. Many now say they feel hope.

After what seemed like endless suffering and misery, another sign of hope: much-needed food arriving on the heels of the peacekeepers.

Late in the afternoon, the rain gave way to some much-needed sunshine. More Liberians, a sign this country may be on the road to recovery. (END VIDEOTAPE)

COOPER: That's Jeff Koinange, reporting from Monrovia.

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