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Liberians Search For Food, Relatives Following Rebel Departure - 2003-08-15

The departure of rebels from the port area of Monrovia has allowed tens-of-thousands of Liberians to search for food and lost relatives.

Tens-of-thousands of hungry Liberians on Friday broke through barriers at key bridges in Monrovia. They wanted access to the former rebel zones, where food was more plentiful, or to look for family members who had been trapped in another part of the city.

The population of Monrovia swelled in the last weeks of President Taylor's rule, as civilians tried to flee escalating fighting on the outskirts. But once trapped in the city, people struggled to find food.

The rebels relinquished control over the port, their prized territorial possession, on Thursday, after former President Charles Taylor stepped down from office and went into exile in Nigeria.