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Last Updated: Tuesday, 28 October, 2003, 04:25 GMT
UN 'should' act on Congo plunder
Human rights campaigners want the UN to probe the exploitation of Congo's natural resources
Human rights campaigners are calling for a probe into allegations that multinational companies and governments are profiteering from gold and other minerals mined in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo).

The allegations, in a report by an independent panel for the United Nations on the plunder of DR Congo's natural resources, were left out of a version of the report to be published later this week.

The UN Security Council now needs to decide whether to disclose the contested part of the report as well, which had been circulated to Security Council members.
The Security Council can no longer ignore clear evidence linking the exploitation of resources to the war in the Congo
Human rights campaigners

UN officials are reported to have expressed fears that its revelations could jeopardise the peace process.

The governments of Rwanda, Uganda, and DR Congo itself are said to be implicated in the plunder, which human rights campaigners say is fuelling the conflict.

"The Security Council can no longer ignore clear evidence linking the exploitation of resources to the war in the Congo," said the group of non-governmental organisations.

"It must insist that member-states hold the companies and individuals involved to account, including companies based in Western countries".

The BBC's Susannah Price, at the UN in New York, says the report, which follows up one issued last year, warns that without a strong central democratically-elected government, illegal exploitation will continue and fuel the conflict.

It says serious consideration should be given to breaking up the large state-owned mineral resource firms which have channelled money away from the people, our correspondent adds.

Major motive

The war in the DR Congo is estimated to have caused the deaths of more than three million people.

The drive to control natural resources was seen as a major motive for the war - with all the warring groups involved allegedly looting the resources to finance the war and acquire weapons, often resulting in widespread human rights abuses against civilians.
Rwandan President Paul Kagame and DRC President Joseph Kabila signing the peace deal
A peace deal has not stopped the jockeying for resources

The armies of Rwanda, Uganda, and Burundi together with Congolese rebel groups were pitted against the government of DR Congo supported by Zimbabwe, Angola, and Namibia.

The bulk of the foreign armies have withdrawn in the past year but illicit economic exploitation allegedly continues through armed groups linked to neighbouring countries and corrupt government officials.

The current transitional government in Congo is expected to organise multi-party elections in two years time. But sporadic fighting continues.

In the meantime, the UN report suggests interim measures.

These include trying to halt the flow of illegal arms and convincing the population to break their ties with armed groups by providing employment and restoring basic social services and security.

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