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

How to Safeguard Your Mobile Privacy

As the digital world becomes more mobile, so too do concerns about eroding privacy and increased hacking More

'Desert Dancer' Chronicles Iranian Underground Dance Troupe

Film by Richard Raymond is based on true story of Afshin Ghaffarian and his friends More

Obesity Poses Complex Problem

Professor warns of obesity’s worldwide health impact 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.
Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam Wari
X
Katherine Gypson
May 25, 2015 1:32 AM
For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Rolling Thunder Run Reveals Changed Attitudes Towards Vietnam War

For many US war veterans, the Memorial Day holiday is an opportunity to look back at a divisive conflict in the nation’s history and to remember those who did not make it home.
Video

Video Female American Soldiers: Healing Through Filmmaking

According to the United States Defense Department, there are more than 200-thousand women serving in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Like their male counterparts, females have experiences that can be very traumatic.  VOA's Bernard Shusman tells us about a program that is helping some American women in the military heal through filmmaking.
Video

Video Iowa Family's Sacrifice Shaped US Military Service for Generations

Few places in America have experienced war like Waterloo. This small town in the Midwest state of Iowa became famous during World War II not for what it accomplished, but what it lost. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, the legacy of one family’s sacrifice is still a reminder today of the real cost of war for all families on the homefront.
Video

Video On Film: How Dance Defies Iran's Political Oppression

'Desert Dancer' by filmmaker Richard Raymond is based on the true story of a group of young Iranians, who form an underground dance troupe in the Islamic Republic of Iran. This is the latest in a genre of films that focus on dance as a form of freedom of expression against political oppression and social injustice. VOA’s Penelope Poulou has more.
Video

Video Turkey's Ruling Party Trying to Lure Voters in Opposition Stronghold

Turkey’s AK (Justice and Development) Party is seeking a fourth successive general election victory, with the goal of securing two-thirds of the seats in Parliament to rewrite the constitution and change the country's parliamentary system into a presidential one. To achieve that, the party will need to win seats in opposition strongholds like the western city of Izmir. Dorian Jones reports.
Video

Video Millions Flock to Ethiopia Polls

Millions of Ethiopians cast their votes Sunday in the first national election since the 2012 death of longtime leader Meles Zenawi. Mr. Meles' party, the Ethiopian People's Revolutionary Democratic Front, is almost certain of victory again. VOA's Anita Powell reports from Addis Ababa.
Video

Video Scientists Testing Space Propulsion by Light

Can the sun - the heart of our solar system - power a spacecraft to the edge of our solar system? The answer may come from a just-launched small satellite designed to test the efficiency of solar sail propulsion. Once deployed, its large sail will catch the so-called solar wind and slowly reach what scientists hope to be substantial speed. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video FIFA Trains Somali Referees

As stability returns to the once lawless nation of Somalia, the world football governing body, FIFA, is helping to rebuild the country’s sport sector by training referees as well as its young footballers. Abdulaziz Billow has more from Mogadishu.
Video

Video With US Child Obesity Rates on the Rise, Program Promotes Health Eating

In its fifth year, FoodCorps puts more than 180 young Americans into 500 schools across the United States, where they focus on teaching students about nutrition, engaging them with hands-on activities, and improving their access to healthy foods whether in the cafeteria or the greater community. Aru Pande has more.
Video

Video Virginia Neighborhood Draws People to Nostalgic Main Street

In the U.S., people used to grow up in small towns with a main street lined by family-owned shops and restaurants. Today, however, many main streets are worn down and empty because shoppers have been lured away by shopping malls. But in the Del Ray neighborhood of Alexandria, Virginia, main street is thriving. VOA’s Deborah Block reports it has a nostalgic feel with its small restaurants and unique stores.

VOA Blogs