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UN Report Critical of DRC Operation


A United Nations report leaked to several news organizations says support for Congo's army has failed to deliver a knockout blow to Rwandan rebels while local insurgents have seized new territory.

A United Nations report leaked to several news organizations says support for Congo's army has failed to deliver a knockout blow to Rwandan rebels while local insurgents have seized new territory.

The leaked report from a U.N. panel of experts says military operations have not succeeded in neutralizing Rwandan-Hutu rebels in eastern Congo. It says the operation has failed to dismantle the political and military structures of the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR.

And the report says natural resources are being plundered and used to finance conflict in DRC. The FDLR, it says, is using profits from an international trade in minerals to recruit fighters.

Carina Tertsakian is from the watchdog group Global Witness.

She says the report's findings are unsurprising. She says both the rebels and the Congolese army benefits from the exploitation of resources in DRC.

"What has happened is as the army gradually takes over certain areas formerly occupied by the FDLR, the army then simply takes over those mines in those areas and proceeds to exploit and trade in minerals itself," Tertsakian said. "So for the people living there, it often makes very little difference whether its rebel groups or the army who are in control of the area."

Official Congolese records show only a few kilos of gold are legally exported each year, but Congo's government estimates over a billion dollars worth of gold actually leaves the country.

Tertsakian says the U.N. is in a difficult position, especially because the military operation is exacerbating the humanitarian crisis. She says part of the problem is that Congo's military is in part made up of rebel groups, including the Tutsi rebel group National Congress for the Defense of the People, or CNDP.

"The military operation that is fighting the FDLR at the moment is an operation that's made up in large part of the former rebel groups and not least former CNDP and their commanders who are heading many of the units carrying out this operation," Tertsakian said.

Tertsakian says following this report the U.N. should amend its policies in DRC.

"I would say that certain much stronger conditions need to be placed on that support and that the UN should certainly not be supporting units of the army that are well-known to be carrying out very serious abuses," Tertsakian said.

The report follows six months of research by a panel experts. The 93-page report is expected to be discussed by the U.N. Security Council.

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