Bil­lion-dollar ivory and gold trade fu­el­ing DR Congo war: UN

The China Post - - INTERNATIONAL -

Smug­gling of ivory, gold and tim­ber worth over a bil­lion dol­lars a year is fu­el­ing war by fund­ing dozens of rebel groups in Demo­cratic Repub­lic of Congo, a U.N. re­port warned Fri­day.

“Mil­i­ta­rized crim­i­nal groups with transna­tional links are in­volved in large-scale smug­gling” of “gold, min­er­als, tim­ber, char­coal and wildlife prod­ucts such as ivory” of up to US$1.3 bil­lion each year from eastern DR Congo, the U.N. En­vi­ron­ment Pro­gramme (UNEP) said.

The rev­enues fi­nance at least 25 armed groups — but up to 49 ac­cord­ing to some es­ti­mates — that “in­creas­ingly fuel the con­flict” in the war-torn re­gion, the re­port read.

Con­trol over the min­eral-rich ar­eas is a key fac­tor in the con­flicts that have raged in eastern DR Congo for decades.

“Th­ese re­sources lost to crim­i­nal gangs and fu­el­ing the con­flict could have been used to build schools, roads, hos­pi­tals and a fu­ture for the Con­golese peo­ple,” said Martin Kobler, U.N. chief in DR Congo, and head of the 20,000-strong U.N. peace­keep­ing force, MONUSCO.

Gold forms the largest sec­tion, with or­ga­nized crime gangs earn­ing up to US$120 mil­lion a year from the trade.

The vast ma­jor­ity of in­come earned goes out­side the im­pov­er­ished re­gion, but the es­ti­mated 2 per­cent that goes to the armed groups, some US$13 mil­lion a year, pro­vides the funds to pro­long war.

“This in­come rep­re­sents the ba­sic sub­sis­tence cost for at least 8,000 armed fighters per year, and en­ables de­feated or dis­armed groups to con­tin­u­ously resur­face and desta­bi­lize the re­gion,” the re­port read.

Crim­i­nal gangs use their cash to push a strat­egy of “divide and rule” among the rebel groups, to en­sure no one rebel force can dom­i­nate and take over the trade, the re­port added.

DR Congo has mas­sive re­sources of gold, cop­per and cobalt but also di­a­monds, iron, nickel, man­ganese, baux­ite, ura­nium and cas­si­terite, the most im­por­tant source of tin. How­ever most of the coun­try’s peo­ple live in poverty.

Much of the rebel ac­tiv­ity con­sists of abuses against civil­ians and il­le­gal ex­ploita­tion of nat­u­ral re­sources.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from Taiwan

© PressReader. All rights reserved.