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Liberia's Civil War Hits Close To Home For Durham Resident

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DURHAM, N.C. — President George W. Bush began a five-nation tour of Africa Monday.

Though he won't be visiting the war-torn country of Liberia, he has sent a U.S. military team there. The team is studying whether the U.S. should send in troops to help stabilize the country.

A local Liberian has a unique perspective on why he believes stabilizing Liberia is important.

Momolu Murray lives in Durham, where there is a large Liberian population. His family and he fled Liberia in 1991 -- two years after Charles Taylor attempted to seize power in a bloody rebellion that triggered civil war.

Many Liberians are full of hope that the United States will do something about the crisis they face after 13 years of civil war. Health care and water are limited. Structural damage is widespread, and much of the population is homeless.

Murray said U.S. intervention is the only thing that can bring peace.

Murray is working on his teaching certification at North Carolina Central University. All of his immediate family made it out of Liberia alive, but they had close calls with rebels supporting Taylor as he seized power.

"He pulled my mom out of the line, and he had a knife, and he was getting ready to kill her," Murray said of an encounter his mother had with a rebel. "Fortunately, his commander came out, and they started talking. The officer and my mother were, like, second cousins, and that's the only thing that saved my mom's life."

Murray said U.S. intervention in Liberia is long overdue.

"The people want peace," he said. "They are tired, and the only reason why they are fighting is because of Charles Taylor. As soon as the U.S. gets there, the Rebels aren't going to fight."

Liberia was founded in the 19th century by freed American slaves.

Most of them came from Virginia. But many of their descendants have since moved back to North Carolina.


Valonda Calloway, Reporter
Nathan Monroe, Photographer
Paul Ensslin, Web Editor

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