News / Africa

Group Says DRC Mines Falling Into New Corrupt Hands

TEXT SIZE - +

Advocacy group Global Witness says that former rebels now integrated into the Congolese army have asserted "mafia-style" control over lucrative mining sites. The rich mineral resources of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo have long helped fuel conflicts in the lawless area.

Global Witness, which investigates the illicit use of natural resources, says that recent field research in the eastern DRC has revealed that a U.N.-backed push to remove Rwandan Hutu FDLR (Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda) rebels has not created a better situation for civilians working in the mines.

Anne Dunnebacke, a Global Witness campaigner on DRC, said that a former Tutsi rebel group now integrated into the national army has begun enriching itself from the mineral wealth.

"Following military operations last year to displace FDLR militia from mining areas, we found that brigades of the national army have now taken over the extortion rackets in the most lucrative mines, and many of these brigades are commanded by elements of the former CNDP rebel group, who in large parts are maintaining their command structures, and their political agendas to some extent," she said.

The DRC contains massive deposits of tin ore as well as coltan, which is used to make a metal that is found in many electronic devices.

Dunnebacke said that during her trip to the DRC last month she found that civilians were subjected "at gunpoint" to heavy taxation from the government troops. Those who refused to pay up could be "whipped, or worse."

The CNDP rebels were led by Tutsi warlord Laurent Nkunda. The Rwandan government  is believed to have supported Nkunda's rebels to fight the presence of the Rwandan Hutu rebel FDLR group, most of whom fled expected retaliation following the end of the Rwandan 1994 genocide of the Tutsi.

But Rwandan troops arrested Nkunda early last year after Rwandan and Congolese forces began working together to uproot the FDLR. Nkunda was put under house arrest in Kigali, and the Tutsi rebels were integrated into the official Congolese army.

Global Witness says that these former rebels are in some areas of North Kivu now operating their own "parallel administration," with some rebel commanders raking in at least "tens of thousands of dollars" a month from its local extortion schemes.

Dunnebacke says the enrichment of these notorious rebels bodes poorly for the future stabilization of the region. "I think it's a significant risk to have a former rebel group that has a history of re-arming and going back to war when they don't get what they want to be in control of such lucrative mines - illegally in control of them," she said.

Global Witness is calling for the United Nations Security Council to expand the mandate of its peacekeeping mission there, known as MONUC, to include the demilitarization of the mineral industry.

When contacted, MONUC admitted that no "control mechanism" existed to ensure that mines pushed out of the hands of the FDLR do not fall into equally corrupt hands within the Congolese army.

MONUC chief analyst Johan Peleman tells VOA that plans are currently underway with Kinshasa to build five regional regulatory centers staffed with mining police, but that for now deterrents such as spot checks along transport routes are all that are in place.

"Currently as a priority is these operations against the FDLR that are still ongoing, so the Congolese military's deployment is in line with that - in holding main population centers, and then to free areas from FDLR presence," he said.

Former CNDP leader Nkunda, who is accused of war crimes, has gone to court to challenge his detention in Rwanda.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid