CNN BREAKING NEWS
Nigerian Peacekeepers Arrive in Liberia
Aired August 4, 2003 - 06:41 ET
THIS IS A RUSH TRANSCRIPT. THIS COPY MAY NOT BE IN ITS FINAL FORM AND MAY BE UPDATED.
CAROL COSTELLO, CNN ANCHOR: It is tough to get a phone line out of Nigeria these days, out of Liberia, I should say, but we do have Jeff Koinange live on the phone from the airport near Monrovia.
The peacekeeping force has arrived. Tell us about it -- Jeff.
JEFF KOINANGE, CNN CORRESPONDENT: That's right. And the second helicopter, the United Nations' helicopter just dropped off the second contingent, Carol. And what they are doing right now, they are literally running on to the tarmac with their rifles up and ready, securing the airport perimeter. In fact, one of the peacekeepers is standing about 10 feet from where I am.
All they are doing is securing the airport right now. The first helicopter left a few moments ago, it's going to pick up more and they are going to be coming in throughout the day. But they are on the ground, Carol, and the mission has formally begun.
COSTELLO: This is just the first wave of troops that will arrive, right -- Jeff?
KOINANGE: That is correct. They are expecting about 300 by the end of the day. And 300 may seem like a small number, but imagine there have been no peacekeepers here on the ground for the past seven years. This is what Liberians have been waiting for, and just a presence, any presence, anyone other than rebel forces or government troops will make a lot of difference psychologically. That's how the people feel.
In fact, there's about 200 people gathered here at the airport in the pouring rain on this Monday morning and they are cheering, they are waiving their hands, they are welcoming these peacekeepers. This is what they have been waiting for all along -- Carol.
COSTELLO: U.S. troops are not far away, but they certainly aren't getting involved just yet.
KOINANGE: I'm sorry, Carol, say that again.
COSTELLO: U.S. troops are not far away from here, but they are not going to get involved just yet, are they?
KOINANGE: No, no, not yet, no. But hopefully -- well, the helicopters are going to leave right now. They are going to come back with more troops throughout the day and vehicles as well. Because remember, there are no vehicles here at all to speak of. They are going to bring all their equipment, get on it and then roll towards Monrovia sometime later today and in the coming days try to secure the capital.
Now we're also hearing that both sides, the government and the rebels, have said they will cease firing altogether once the peacekeepers are on the ground. Well they are on the ground now, Carol, we'll see if those guns will be silent soon.
COSTELLO: Yes, and I know you will be following the troops there, so you be careful. Jeff Koinange reporting live from Monrovia near the -- or actually at the airport near Monrovia, which of course is the capital of Liberia.
TO ORDER A VIDEO OF THIS TRANSCRIPT, PLEASE CALL 800-CNN-NEWS OR USE OUR SECURE ONLINE ORDER FORM LOCATED AT www.fdch.com