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Combatants voluntarily disarm in May 2004 during the UN program, Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR)
Combatants voluntarily disarm in May 2004 during the UN program, Disarmament, Demobilization, Rehabilitation and Reintegration (DDRR)
The Second Liberian Civil War began in 1999 when a rebel group backed by the government of neighboring Guinea, the Liberians United for Reconciliation and Democracy (LURD), emerged in northern Liberia. In early 2003, a second rebel group, the Movement for Democracy in Liberia, emerged in the south, and by June-July of 2003, Charles Taylor's government controlled only a third of the country. The capital Monrovia was besieged by LURD, and that group's shelling of the city resulted in the deaths of many civilians. Thousands of people were displaced from their homes as a result of the conflict.The United States of America sent a small number of troops to bolster security around their embassy in Monrovia, which had come under attack. The U.S. also stationed a Marine Expeditionary Unit with 2300 Marines offshore while Nigeria sent in peacekeepers as part of a Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) force. President Taylor resigned on August 11, 2003 as part of a peace agreement and was flown into exile in Nigeria. An arrest warrant for Taylor for war crimes committed by his rebel allies in Sierra Leone was later issued by Interpol but Nigeria has since refused to deport him unless they receive a specific request from Liberia. Vice-President Moses Blah replaced Taylor prior to the installation of a transitional government on October 14, 2003. However, the transitional government exercises no real authority in the country, 80% of which is controlled by the rebel groups.

United Nations peacekeeping
A Mil Mi-24 in use by UNMIL peacekeeping forces in Monrovia
A Mil Mi-24 in use by UNMIL peacekeeping forces in Monrovia
On September 11, 2003, UN Secretary General Kofi Annan recommended the deployment of the peacekeeping mission, the United Nations Mission in Liberia, to maintain the peace agreement. The UN Security Council approved the mission on September 19. UNMIL was made up of over 15,000 personnel, including both military and civilian troops. The bulk of the personnel are armed military troops, but there are also civilian policemen, as well as political advisers and humanitarian aid workers. On October 1, United Nations peacekeepers replaced the ECOWAS force, although some of the personnel were the same. During three days of riots in Monrovia in October 2004, nearly 400 people were wounded and 15 killed. The UN already has a number of personnel in the country -- 5500 are projected to be in place by November -- and is working to disarm the various factions. However, instability in neighboring countries, an incomplete disarmament process, and general discontent threatens Liberia's fragile peace.
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