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UN Official Calls for Return to Normal Life in Liberia - 2003-09-11

A top U.N. official in Liberia says refugees who have taken shelter in Monrovia's public buildings are being moved out in an effort to return the capital to normal life. The official is also calling for an end to fighting in the country's interior.

The first of many thousands of people who took refuge in Monrovia's public buildings are being moved out of the capital so that the city can resume functioning.

Schools, football stadiums, and other public buildings became makeshift homes for thousands of Liberians who sought refuge in Monrovia from fighting in the volatile interior.

U.N. Special Humanitarian Coordinator Ross Mountain said the goal is to return public buildings to their proper use and enable schools to open when school year begins.

The displaced are being moved to camps outside Monrovia.

International peacekeepers were successfully deployed outside the capital this week. But few Liberians are willing to return to their homes in the interior as long as fighting between government and rebel forces continues.

Mr. Mountain has called for both sides to end the fighting and abide by the terms of the peace agreement signed in August. He said innocent civilians are being caught in the cross-fire, and the violence is impeding the distribution of urgently needed humanitarian supplies.