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Last Updated: Wednesday, 25 February, 2004, 14:34 GMT
Liberians return to 'safe areas'
Returning Liberians
The refugees were told they were safe to travel across the country
At least 2,000 people have crossed back into Liberia from Sierra Leone since United Nations peacekeepers deployed to the border town of Bo.

The BBC's Jonathan Paye-Layleh says that the Mano River bridge has been busy with human traffic since the troops arrived.

About 800,000 Liberians are waiting to go home after 14 years of conflict.

Former rebels have joined a power-sharing government, which is due to organise elections next year.

'Very happy'

Some of the returnees are sheltering in a local clinic where there is just a single hand pump to provide drinking water.

JK Armah, 51, father of eight, a lecturer at the Liberia Forestry Institute in Liberia, who has been in exile in Sierra Leone for two years, said:

"I am very very happy for what I do see on the ground here today, I am very happy that I have come in today."

"This is Liberia we fled before," said Boimah Kiawu, 40, with no shirt on and sweating profusely under a huge bundle as he crossed the bridge.

"Our own people could not make this place a place for us to live in, foreigners [peacekeepers] have come to our rescue, we have no reason to doubt peace is finally here," he said.

Rebels remain

The head of the 10,000-strong UN force in Liberia reassured those going home that they would be safe.

General Daniel Opande (centre)
The UN has deployed to 12 out of 15 counties
General Daniel Opande said the UN troops were now deployed in 12 of Liberia's 15 counties.

"Our troops are now deployed here. You can go all the way to Monrovia, you can go to Gbarnga, Nimba or Zwedru," said General Daniel Opande.

Our correspondent says that fighters from the Lurd rebel group are still in the town.

But he says they do not display their weapons and have dismantled their major roadblocks, to show that authority rests with the UN force, Unmil.

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