In a written statement released to the press, Deputy Spokesman James Foley called upon the government of Burundi to "facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance immediately to all its needy citizens" and "work with humanitarian organizations to provide adequate security so that humanitarian workers can operate throughout Burundi."
Following is the Foley text:
U.S. Department of State
Office of the Spokesman
December 16, 1999
STATEMENT BY JAMES B. FOLEY, DEPUTY SPOKESMAN
The U.S. Government urges the Government of Burundi to stop the forced relocation of its citizens into regroupment camps and to end the regroupment program. By the end of September, nearly 300,000 people in Bujumbura Rural province had been rounded up and forcibly moved into camps by the armed forces of Burundi in response to rebel attacks. Today, these regroupment camps remain in place and others are reportedly being established.
The United States is aware of the rebel attacks on civilian populations that precipitated the Government's action and strongly and unequivocally condemns those attacks. Nonetheless, the U.S. remains gravely concerned about the forced movement of the population and its humanitarian and human rights consequences. The situation in the camps continues to deteriorate, with a lack of water, food, medical care, basic sanitation, and shelter. The United States believes that these camps are breeding grounds not only for disease and death but also for long-term resentment. Security conditions remain poor, and humanitarian workers have limited access to the camps because the workers' safety cannot be guaranteed, as evidenced by the October 12 killing of nine people on a UN mission.
We call upon the Government of Burundi to facilitate the delivery of humanitarian assistance immediately to all its needy citizens. The Government should work with humanitarian organizations to provide adequate security so that humanitarian workers can operate throughout Burundi.
(Distributed by the Office of International Information Programs, U.S. Department of State)