News / Africa

Group Says DRC Mines Falling Into New Corrupt Hands

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

Tired of Waiting, South Africans Demand Change ‘Now’

With chronic poverty and lack of basic services largely fueling recent xenophobic attacks, many in Rainbow Nation say it’s time for government to act More

Challenges Ahead for China's Development Plans in Pakistan

Planned $46 billion in energy and infrastructure investments in Pakistan are aimed at transforming the country into a regional hub for trade and investment More

'Forbidden City' Revisits Little Known Era of Asian-American Entertainment

Little-known chapter of entertainment history captured in 80s documentary is revisited in new digitally remastered format and book 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.
Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festivali
X
April 24, 2015 4:09 AM
Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video Cinema That Crosses Borders Showcased at Tribeca Film Festival

Among the nearly 100 feature length films being shown at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival in New York City are more than 20 documentaries and features with international appeal, from a film about a Congolese businessman in China, to documentaries shot in Pakistan and diaspora communities in the U.S., to a poetic look at disaffected South African youth. VOA’s Carolyn Weaver has more.
Video

Video UN Confronts Threat of Young Radicals

The radicalization and recruitment of young people into Islamist extremist groups has become a growing challenge for governments worldwide. On Thursday, the U.N. Security Council heard from experts on the issue, which has become a potent threat to international peace and security. VOA’s Margaret Besheer reports.
Video

Video Growing Numbers of Turks Discover Armenian Ancestry

In a climate of improved tolerance, growing numbers of people in Turkey are discovering their grandmothers were Armenian. Hundreds of thousands of Armenians escaped the mass deportations and slaughter of the early 1900's by forced conversion to Islam. Or, Armenian children were taken in by Turkish families and assimilated. Now their stories are increasingly being heard. Dorian Jones reports from Istanbul that the revelations are viewed as an important step.
Video

Video Migrants Trek Through Western Balkans to Reach EU

Migrants from Africa and other places are finding different routes into the European Union in search of a better life. The Associated Press followed one clandestine group to document their trek through the western Balkans to Hungary. Zlatica Hoke reports that the migrants started using that route about four years ago. Since then, it has become the second-most popular path into Western Europe, after the option of sailing from North Africa to Italy.
Video

Video TIME Magazine Honors Activists, Pioneers Seen as Influential

TIME Magazine has released its list of celebrities, leaders and activists, whom it deems the world’s “most influential” in 2015. VOA's Ramon Taylor reports from New York.
Video

Video US Businesses See Cuba as New Frontier

The Obama administration's opening toward Cuba is giving U.S. companies hope they'll be able to do business in Cuba despite the continuation of the U.S. economic embargo against the communist nation. Some American companies have been able to export some products to Cuba, but the recent lifting of Cuba's terrorism designation could relax other restrictions. As VOA's Daniela Schrier reports, corporate heavy hitters are lining up to head across the Florida Straits - though experts urge caution.
Video

Video Kenya Launches Police Recruitment Drive After Terror Attacks

Kenya launched a major police recruitment drive this week as part of a large-scale effort to boost security following a recent spate of terror attacks. VOA’s Gabe Joselow reports that allegations of corruption in the process are raising old concerns about the integrity of Kenya’s security forces.
Video

Video Japan, China in Race for Asia High-Speed Rail Projects

A lucrative competition is underway in Asia for billions of dollars in high-speed rail projects. Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia Thailand and Vietnam are among the countries planning to move onto the fast track. They are negotiating with Japan and the upstart Chinese who are locked in a duel to revolutionize transportation across Asia. VOA Correspondent Steve Herman in Bangkok has details.
Video

Video Scientists: Mosquitoes Attracted By Our Genes

Some people always seem to get bitten by mosquitoes more than others. Now, scientists have proved that is really the case - and they say it’s all because of genes. It’s hoped the research might lead to new preventative treatments for diseases like malaria, as Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Bible Museum Coming to Washington DC

Washington is the center of American political power and also home to some of the nation’s most visited museums. A new one that will showcase the Bible has skeptics questioning the motives of its conservative Christian funders. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky reports.
Video

Video Armenia and Politics of Word 'Genocide'

A century ago this April, hundreds of thousands of Armenians of the Turkish Ottoman empire were deported and massacred, and their culture erased from their traditional lands. While broadly accepted by the U.N. and at least 20 countries as “genocide”, the United States and Turkey have resisted using that word to describe the atrocities that stretched from 1915 to 1923. But Armenians have never forgotten.
Video

Video Afghan First Lady Pledges No Roll Back on Women's Rights

Afghan First Lady Rula Ghani, named one of Time's 100 Most Influential, says women should take part in talks with Taliban. VOA's Rokhsar Azamee has more from Kabul.
Video

Video Keeping Washington Airspace Safe Is Tall Order

Being the home of all three branches of the U.S. federal government makes Washington, D.C. the prime target for those who want to make their messages and ideas heard. Unfortunately, many of them choose to deliver them in unorthodox ways, including from the air, as a recent incident clearly showed involving a gyrocopter landing on the Capitol’s West Lawn. VOA's George Putic has more.
Video

Video New Brain Mapping Techniques Could Ease Chronic Pain

From Boulder, Colorado, Shelley Schlender reports that new methods for mapping pain in the brain are providing validation for chronic pain and might someday guide better treatment.
Video

Video Hope, Prayer Enter Fight Against S. Africa Xenophobia

South Africa has been swept by disturbing attacks on foreign nationals. Some blame the attacks on a legacy of colonialism, while others say the economy is to blame. Whatever the cause, ordinary South Africans - and South African residents from around the world - say they're praying for the siege of violence to end. Anita Powell reports from Johannesburg.

VOA Blogs