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Tuesday, 20 November, 2001, 10:08 GMT
DR Congo 'looters' condemned
Rwandan army in DR Congo
Rwandan and Ugandan forces back rebels in DR Congo
A number of African countries are perpetuating the civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo, so they can illegally exploit the country's mineral and other resources, says a UN report.


It says that countries like Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Uganda may have initially intervened in Congo because of security concerns, but their motive now is to extract the maximum material and commercial benefits.

The report says sanctions should still be considered if the countries involved continue to act in this way, but its main thrust is the call for a moratorium on Congolese minerals exported via third countries.

Earlier this year the Rwandan and Ugandan governments rejected allegations that they were benefiting from the illegal exploitation of resources in DR Congo, but this new report suggests that practice is continuing and is a major factor in the slow pace of efforts to bring peace to the Congo.

Resources

DR Congo is endowed with some of the richest natural resources in the world - including gold, copper, cobalt, diamonds, timber and coltan, a metal ore used in the communications and aerospace industry.

Coltan miners in DR Congo
The mining of minerals like coltan can be lucrative

But with government influence weak the opportunity to exploit these resources has been readily taken up by what the UN report calls "unscrupulous elements operating under the garb of various governments, businesses, mafias and individuals'"

It says:

  • Rwanda exports Coltan mined in eastern DR Congo
  • Uganda smuggles gold
  • Zimbabwe's joint ventures in DR Congo benefit Zimbabwe's army and government officials

The report also urges the international community to assist the Congolese Government to take control of its territory and resources by helping to rebuild state institutions.

Ceasefire

The government, backed by troops from Zimbabwe, Angola and Namibia, controls less than half of the central African nation in a three-year conflict dubbed "Africa's First World War".

UN soldiers in DR Congo
A UN mission is overseeing a shaky ceasefire

Rival rebel groups backed by Uganda and Rwanda are dominant in the north and east of the country.

Although a ceasefire is in place and UN monitors have deployed to oversee troop withdrawals from the front line, sporadic fighting amongst armed groups continues.

A report earlier this year by aid agencies said that the war had led to one of the world's worst humanitarian crises.

It said 16 million Congolese are going hungry, more than two million have been displaced by the war and in some parts of the country, two out of five children are dying in infancy.

See also:

01 Aug 01 | Africa
Congo's coltan rush
15 Oct 01 | African
Should DR Congo be split up?
30 Sep 01 | Africa
DR Congo ceasefire under threat
16 Apr 01 | Africa
UN alleges DR Congo exploitation
18 Jan 01 | Business
Congo economy 'ravaged' by conflict
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