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Congo (Kinshasa): Conflict Fueled from Many Sources
Dec 22, 2009 (091222)
(Reposted from sources cited below)
"Minerals and arms smuggling worth millions of dollars persists in
eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) despite
international sanctions, fuelling rebel strength despite national
army operations, and army and rebel soldiers continue to kill
civilians, according to a new United Nations report that calls on
the Security Council to take action to plug the gaps." - UN News,
reporting on independent Group of Experts on sanctions on DRC
AfricaFocus Bulletin will be taking a year-end break for holidays
and for needed website software updates. Publication of the
Bulletin will resume in late January. The website will remain
available without interruption.
Best wishes to AfricaFocus readers for the holiday season and the
This AfricaFocus Bulletin contains several news releases from the
United Nations (all available at http://www.un.org/News), referring
to the report by the Group of Experts monitoring sanctions on
minerals and arms smuggling, on the continuation of the UN
peacekeeping mission, and on the UN decision to cease cooperation
with Congolese government army units accused of significant rights
abuses in the most recent offensive.
The full report of the Group of Experts, with extensive detail and
documentation regarding smuggling networks linking the eastern
Congo with neighboring countries as well as diaspora and commercial
interests in Europe and the Middle East, is available at:
A very useful summary of the report, by Africa Confidential, is
available at: http://allafrica.com/stories/200911250877.html
Another AfricaFocus Bulletin released today, available on the web
but not sent out by e-mail, contains a summary of a related report
by Global Witness on "the militarization of mining in eastern
Congo," as well as links to other reports and recommendations on
the issue See http://www.africafocus.org/docs09/gw0912.php
Further recent documentation on human rights abuses by government
forces supported by the United Nations, as well as by rebel forces,
is available in a new report from Human Rights Watch
(http://www.hrw.org / direct link:http://tinyurl.com/y9mr6e3)
and in a Field Dispatch from Noel Atama of the Enough Project at
(direct link: http://tinyurl.com/ykfb8f4)
For earlier AfricaFocus Bulletin's on the Democratic Republic of
the Congo, visit http://www.africafocus.org/country/congokin.php
++++++++++++++++++++++end editor's note+++++++++++++++++++++++
Global minerals, arms smuggling networks fuel DR Congo conflict -
Full report is available at:
7 December 2009 - Minerals and arms smuggling worth millions of
dollars persists in eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
despite international sanctions, fuelling rebel strength despite
national army operations, and army and rebel soldiers continue to
kill civilians, according to a new United Nations report that calls
on the Security Council to take action to plug the gaps.
The independent Group of Experts monitoring UN sanctions on the DRC
reports that the mainly Rwandan Hutu rebels of the Forces
d‚mocratiques de lib‚ration du Rwanda (FDLR) continue to exploit
gold and cassiterite in North and South Kivu provinces with the
help of trading networks in Uganda, Burundi and the United Arab
Emirates, while irregular arms deliveries have come from the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) and Sudan.
End buyers for cassiterite include the Malaysia Smelting
Corporation and the Thailand Smelting and Refining Company, which
is held by United Kingdom-based Amalgamated Metals Corporation, the
experts add. The rebels also get weapons leaked to them from the
army itself while the rebel diaspora abroad, particularly in
Europe, coordinates fundraising and operations.
"The increasing rate of FDLR combatant defections and FDLR
temporary removal from many of its bases are only a partial
success, considering that the armed group has regrouped in a number
of locations in the Kivus, and continues to recruit new fighters,"
they write of the army's offensive, noting that the rebels continue
to benefit from residual but significant support from top army
commanders and external support networks in Burundi and Tanzania.
"FDLR has a far-reaching international diaspora network involved in
the day-to-day running of the movement, the coordination of
military and arms trafficking activities and the management of
The report calls on the Security Council to ask Member States to
share data on active FDLR diaspora members, prosecute sanctions
violations by nationals or leaders of armed groups residing in
their territories and take steps to prevent companies from
supporting such groups by trade in natural resources.
The Council should also call on all States in the Great Lakes
region to immediately publish their full import and export
statistics for gold, cassiterite, coltan and wolframite and
centralize them in a body chaired by an independent auditor
mandated to verify any statistical anomalies.
"The focus of the report is the international, regional and local
networks that are fuelling the crisis in eastern Congo," Group
Coordinator Dinesh Mahtani told a news conference.
The experts call on the Council to strengthen the authority of the
UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) in monitoring the arms embargo, and
to reiterate its request to Burundi, Kenya, Rwanda, the Sudan,
Tanzania and Zambia to provide full data on all flights to or from
On human rights abuses, they call on the Council to mandate MONUC
to set up a vetting mechanism to screen the records of national
army officers and impose disciplinary and judicial sanctions on
gross human rights abusers. "FARDC (the national army) and FDLR
have been involved in significant killings of civilians and other
abuses from March to October 2009, causing additional waves of
displacement of several hundred thousand civilians," they write.
Turning to the efforts to reintegrate former rebels into the army,
the experts report that the officer class of another group, the
CongrŠs national pour la d‚fense du peuple (CNDP), in particular
General Bosco Ntaganda, has continued to retain heavy weapons from
its period of rebellion and still controls revenue-generating
activities and parallel local administrations.
They call on the Council to urge the DRC authorities to remove
General Ntaganda from the position of Deputy Commander of Kimia II
operations (the offensive against FDLR) and implement an assets
freeze and travel ban against him, since his name is included in
the list of individuals under sanctions.
"CNDP military officers deployed as part of FARDC Kimia II
operations have profited from their deployment in mineral-rich
areas, notably at the Bisie mine in Walikale, North Kivu, and in
the territory of Kalehe, in South Kivu," they write.
"In both these areas, the FARDC commanding officers on the ground
are former CNDP officers," they add, citing evidence showing direct
involvement of CNDP military officials in the supply of minerals to
a number of exporting houses which supply the international
companies mentioned above.
DR Congo: UN has suspended cooperation with army units accused of
14 December 2009 - United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) have suspended logistical or other
support for units of the National Armed Forces (FARDC) when there
are sufficient grounds to believe their operations would violate
human rights, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said today.
Asked at a news conference about a report that 1,400 civilians had
been killed by Congolese or Rwandan troops and by rebels in eastern
DRC as a result of the so-called Kimia II military operations
launched with the cooperation of the UN Mission in DRC, known as
MONUC, Mr. Ban replied: "MONUC continues to give the highest
priority to the protection of civilians, which is something I
strongly value. We have always acted in accordance with the mandate
provided by the Security Council."
MONUC and the UN Department for Peacekeeping Operations (DPKO)
requested advice from the Office of Legal Affairs and they have
already suspended cooperation with certain units, he said.
"We will continue to work, keeping in mind the highest priority is
protecting the civilian population in military operations," he
added. "Unfortunately, the Kimia II operation has been proved to be
where many civilian casualties have happened, and that is why we
have immediately suspended our military operations and cooperation
with some parts of the Congolese national forces."
He pointed out that MONUC's mandate is to help the Congolese Armed
Forces, but stressed: "I made it, and we made it, quite clear that
whenever there [are] grounds for violation of the human rights
situation, then we will suspend these military operations."
Asked whether the situation was serious enough for a blanket
suspension, he replied: "There is an overall important mission that
MONUC has to carry out in accordance with the Security Council
mandate to preserve peace and security and to protect the civilian
"I am not sure whether it is desirable to suspend the whole
peacekeeping operation there. That is what the Security Council has
to decide, in closely following the situation, as well as assessing
the situation there."
DR Congo: UN forces, army adopt new directives with civilian
protection at core
16 December 2009 - United Nations peacekeepers in the Democratic
Republic of the Congo (DRC) and the national army adopted new
directives today for operations against rebels with the protection
of civilians as the core focus following reports of massacres and
other serious human rights violations by Congolese soldiers.
Announcing the new directives to the Security Council,
Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon's Special Representative Alan Doss
highlighted the dilemma faced by the UN Mission in DRC, known as
MONUC, which is mandated to "give the highest priority" to
protecting civilians, while at the same time working with the
national army, which includes elements responsible for human rights
abuses, in fighting rebels in the east of the vast country.
"There is no easy answer to this dilemma and we are looking towards
the Council for clear guidance in this respect," he said,
presenting Mr. Ban's latest report on the DRC, which calls for a
six-month extension of MONUC, one of the UN's largest operations
with nearly 20,000 uniformed personnel, until 30 June.
Asked at a news conference on Monday about reports that 1,400
civilians had been killed by Congolese or Rwandan troops and by
rebels as a result of the so-called Kimia II military operations
launched with MONUC's support, Mr. Ban said the mission had
suspended logistical or other support for units of the Congolese
National Armed Forces (FARDC) when there were sufficient grounds to
believe their operations would violate human rights.
Underscoring the dilemma, an independent UN human rights expert
today named two FARDC commanders, Innocent Zimurinda and Bosco
Ntaganda, who remain in the their posts, as facing serious
accusations of human rights violations.
"It is a contradiction of basic UN principles for UN peacekeepers
to cooperate with a military operation led by individuals who stand
accused of war crimes and grave human rights abuses," UN Special
Rapporteur on extrajudicial executions Philip Alston said in a news
Mr. Alston, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva,
added that while action against the mainly Rwandan Hutu rebel group
FDLR in eastern DRC was necessary, the manner in which Kimia II it
has been carried out has been "absolutely catastrophic" for
"There has been insufficient planning for civilian protection, and
civilians have been raped to death and massacred in revenge attacks
by the rebels. Shockingly, civilians have also been gang-raped and
hacked or shot to death by the Congolese army, the very force that
is supposed to protect them," he stressed.
It is to address these problems that Mr. Doss announced the new
directives today, with Kimia II ending by 31 December. "The FARDC
and MONUC will now concentrate on holding ground recovered from the
FDLR and preventing attacks on civilians in areas of vulnerability,
while undertaking focused interventions against any centres of
command and control where the FDLR may have regrouped," he said.
"Protection of civilians has to be at the core of these
He later told reporters that it was important to have the FARDC
stabilized in some areas "with our support and our presence. So I
would expect there would be fewer operations conducted, but we've
still kept open the possibility of targeted operations if we see
the FDLR regrouping and attempting to strike or recover or conduct
MONUC aided Kimia II with helicopter lifts, medical evacuation,
fuel and rations, as well as firepower support to FARDC to keep
FDLR from reclaiming areas previously under its control.
He noted that human rights violations were rife in North and South
Kivu provinces. "Sexual violence continues unchecked. Armed groups
together with uncontrolled elements of the FARDC are responsible
for most of these violations," he said.
Kimia II's goal of ending FDLR's control of population centres and
weakening its ability to exploit the country's natural resources
such as gold and cassiterite "has been largely achieved, although
we do recognize there have been very serious humanitarian
consequences," he added.
He reiterated the need to dismantle the international and
expatriate networks behind the minerals and arms smuggling in the
eastern provinces, which have continued to seethe with rebel and
ethnic violence after much of the rest of the once war-torn country
has returned to relative calm.
"At the same time, the Congolese Government must ensure the
progressive demilitarization of the mining areas and prevent its
own armed forces from exploiting these resources," he warned.
"Unfortunately, with the recent round of integration and
demobilization of Congolese armed groups (whose members were
enlisted in the army after reaching accords with the Government),
the problem of discipline in the FARDC has worsened."
Mr. Doss noted that MONUC was implementing, together with other UN
agencies, a multi-faceted protection strategy for tens of thousands
of civilians "under the threat of imminent danger," with 58 forward
bases. "I can assure that local people greatly appreciate our
presence and the protection that MONUC provides," he said.
Over 1.25 million people have been uprooted or re-displaced by
violence in North and South Kivu provinces, and the volatile
security situation has hampered aid agencies' efforts to provide
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