Despite being outnumbered, UN peacekeepers have advanced into towns held by MODEL and LURD rebels and begun aid operations operations. A battalion of Bangladeshi troops went into the MODEL held port city of Buchanan while more Bangladeshi troops went into the LURD controlled inland towns of Gganga and Tubmanburg. The rebels had first resisted these advances, but after a show of force by the peacekeepers, and a threat to cut off food aid, they relented. Most Liberians want peace, and most of the gunmen will give up their weapons for a few hundred dollars. But these same men and adolescents will keep their weapons if they have no other way to get fed. There are still 40,000 armed men with government and rebel forces, and only about 7,000 peacekeepers. Some 11,000 men have offered to surrender their guns, but a shortage of money and troops to handle that many has caused disarmament efforts to be delayed until January 20th.
Meanwhile, the interim government agreed with the UN decision to maintain sanctions on Liberia. This prevents trade and weapons imports. The reason for this agreement is because most of Liberia is still controlled by warlords who will engage in illegal export of diamonds, lumber and other items, and the import of weapons, if they get a chance. The government also agrees with the UN that the country is not yet safe enough for the return of 400,000 Liberian refugees living in neighboring countries. The 3.3 people in Liberia are worse off than the refugees. Aid groups trying to deliver food and other supplies face the threat of attack by bandits and armed men belonging to government or rebel forces. Even an armed escort of peacekeepers does not guarantee shipments will get through.
Most of Liberia is still a lawless no-man's land overrun by hungry guys with guns and not much adult supervision.