Accessibility links

Life Slowly Returns To Normal In Liberia's Battle-Scarred Capital - 2003-08-18

Shops and markets have reopened in Liberia's capital, Monrovia, where heavy gunfire and mortar shells rained down only two weeks ago.

On Monday, people ventured into city streets, many of them looking for food and other basic necessities. Some shops opened for the first time in a month. Supplies have been dangerously low after two months of rebel offensives on Monrovia.

But recent developments have restored the confidence of a war-weary population.

Last Thursday, rebels withdrew from the city's port area to allow the distribution of humanitarian aid. Ships with supplies soon began docking at the port.

But the aid crisis is far from over. An estimated one-million Liberians throughout the country need assistance. Tens of thousands of displaced people in Monrovia alone need food, clean water, and medical help.

On Sunday, an aid ship bound for Monrovia sank off the coast of neighboring Sierra Leone, destroying $86,000 worth of fuel, generators, blankets, sleeping mats, and soap. None of the 22 people on board were injured.

World Vision, the U.S.-based aid agency responsible for the doomed supplies, has a second load on the way, expected to arrive in Monrovia sometime this week.