TITLE=BURUNDI/REFUGEE CAMPS (L-ONLY)
INTRO: Burundi's army is forcing thousands of people
out of their homes and into resettlement camps. The
government says it is a necessary step to stop rebel
attacks, but international aid groups say the
resettlement is illegal and inhumane. Jennifer Wiens
has more from V-O-A's East Africa bureau.
TEXT: Tens of thousands of civilians living on the
outskirts of Burundi's capital, Bujumburu, are being
rounded up and moved into camps by the Burundian army.
Over the past three weeks, between 150-thousand and
250-thousand people have been trucked away from their
homes and into what the government is calling
The resettlement operation comes in the wake of recent
attacks on Bujumbura by ethnic Hutu rebels that have
left several dozen people dead. Those attacks are the
latest in Burundi's six-year long civil war, in which
extremists from the majority Hutu ethnic community
have been battling the minority Tutsi-dominated army.
Thousands of people from both ethnic groups have died
in the conflict.
The government says that by concentrating the civilian
population into the camps, they can both protect them
and ensure that the mainly Hutu civilians are not
aiding the rebels.
But observers from several international aid
organizations say the resettlement is a humanitarian
disaster. The Burundi government set up similar camps
to try to cut off rebel support two years ago. Peter
Bouckaert of the organization Human Rights Watch says
hundreds of people died in those earlier camps, and
reports from these newest camps show the same problems
/// BOUCKAERT ACT ///
Men were often separated and summarily executed
inside the camps, women were raped and the
living conditions were very bad. People were
dying of disease and hunger in large numbers,
and we've received similar reports this time
/// END ACT ///
Burundi's government admits it is having trouble
feeding the people inside the camps and has appealed
to international aid groups to help supply food. That
appeal has placed aid agencies in a difficult dilemma.
If they help the people inside the camps, they are
indirectly supporting the government's resettlement
Human Rights Watch's Peter Bouckaert says the
international community needs to speak out against the
resettlement operation, even if they do decide to
supply food or medical aid.
/// PETER BOUCKAERT 2ND ACT ///
I hope that in working in the camps, the
international community will look at army abuses
which take place in and around the camps and
will speak out publicly about those abuses,
because otherwise they will become complicit in
this abusive policy.
/// END ACT ///
The resettlement may have some long-term negative
effects. With people forced off their farms, crops
are going unplanted and unharvested. There are also
no schools or medical facilities in the camps, so the
education and medical treatment of thousands of
civilians are being disrupted. (Signed)
09-Oct-1999 12:07 PM EDT (09-Oct-1999 1607 UTC)
Source: Voice of America
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