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Last Updated: Friday, 24 December, 2004, 03:45 GMT
Report warns on DR Congo arms
Mark Doyle
BBC World Affairs correspondent

UN peacekeeper and a Congolese soldier
UN troops are poorly trained, says the report
Arms smuggling in the east of DR Congo is so widespread it is encouraging armed groups to restart the war, says a UK parliamentary report.

The report - seen exclusively by the BBC - recommends a big increase in the monitoring and control of arms flows by the UN peacekeeping force in DR Congo.

The UN itself is criticised in the report for not making the countering of arms smuggling a higher priority.

The report says UN soldiers lack the training to monitor arms movements.


The report by the All Party Parliamentary Group (APPG) on the Great Lakes - in central Africa - says the general breakdown in state control caused by the war in DR Congo has created a "free-for-all" atmosphere being exploited by arms traffickers and local warlords.

It tracks illegal, unregistered aircraft - so-called "ghost planes" - delivering arms and, picking up precious minerals, at airstrips hidden in the Congolese jungle.


The report names some of businessmen and local warlords allegedly involved in what are direct violations of UN and European Union arms embargoes.

The study acknowledges that the UN peacekeeping force in Congo is severely overstretched, but also criticises the force.

It says upholding the arms embargo is not high enough on the UN peacekeepers' agenda, and that many UN soldiers lack the training to monitor weapons flows properly.

The report recommends that the international community supply the UN with high-tech surveillance equipment such as unmanned "drone" aircraft fitted with video cameras.

These could help locate illegal airstrips and track some weapons supplies.

Another recommendation is that UN member states should provide the peacekeeping force with fast patrol boats to keep an eye on the lakes which form part of the border between eastern DR Congo and its neighbours.

Like the air routes, these lakes are also used for arms smuggling and the illegal movement of precious minerals.

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