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UN: Exploitation of Resources in DRC Continues

A United Nations report says the illegal exploitation of resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo continues, with the central government apparently powerless to stop it.

In a report to the U.N. Security Council, a panel of experts observes that the abuse of natural resources in the DRC is nothing new, and that is why a nation with vast natural wealth has been reduced to one of the poorest in the world.

However, the report says the recent armed conflict in the DRC, involving rebel groups and troops from foreign nations, has aggravated the theft of resources.

Diamonds are perhaps the best-known commodity being illegally taken, but the report says gold, copper, cobalt and coltan, a valuable metal used in high-technology products, are also being stolen. The report says those commodities are being exploited by "predatory groups," some in the region and some outside it.

Ambassador Mahmoud Kassem of Egypt, who chaired the expert panel, told reporters it is unlikely the illegal exploitation will stop until the DRC government is able to exert its authority throughout the country. He said, "What we observed primarily are the weak institutions of the state itself in the Democratic Republic of Congo. That means that unless and until something can be done to rebuild the capacity of the state, to make it strong and capable enough to control its huge immense territory, this rampant exploitation will continue."

Although some fighting continues in the DRC, the war appears to be winding down with foreign troops leaving and U.N. military observers disarming rebels. The report recommends that the international community formulate plans to rebuild government institutions in the DRC so that the resources of the country can be used for the benefit of the people of the country.