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DATE=10/9/1999 TYPE=CORRESPONDENT REPORT TITLE=BURUNDI/REFUGEE CAMPS (L-ONLY) NUMBER=2-254838 BYLINE=JENNIFER WIENS DATELINE=NAIROBI CONTENT= VOICED AT: 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 "protected villages." 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 happening again. /// 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 around. /// 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 program. 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) NEB/JW/ALW/JP 09-Oct-1999 12:07 PM EDT (09-Oct-1999 1607 UTC) NNNN Source: Voice of America .





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