Stealing Resources in Congo

Stephanie Nolen is a truly great reporter and writer.  Watch her at The Globe for articles like this one in which she explains how Rwandan rebels responsible for the genocide there have become rich at the expense of a million Congolese people killed, raped, maimed, turned into refugees and living without hope that their country will be restored to peace – and how the government of the DRC and multinational companies from Europe, Canada and the US profit from the ongoing war.  Here’s a bit:

A squad of Congolese army soldiers are posted in Luntukulu to, in theory, isolate the Rwandan rebels. In reality, the checkpoint serves as a handy place for the soldiers to collect bribes from those who carry the minerals out of the militia’s territory. “We pay at every checkpoint coming and going: Every person who crosses pays 500 francs [about $1]. It’s not official but the province and district authorities know it,” said Olivier Mugaruka, who travels the rough roads of this region to buy tin, tungsten and coltan.

The soldiers also take a cut out of everything hauled out by legitimate miners such as Mr. Beningabo – an informal tax just like the 10 per cent he must pay to his village chief.

And that’s just small scale. In the next province of North Kivu, the infamous 85th brigade of the Congolese armed forces controls a huge cassiterite mine at Bisie, where it forces the local population to work. Although Congolese civil society organizations and media have repeatedly shown that the brigade controls the mine – and pockets the revenue from it – work continues undisturbed, and the tin is exported through both legal and illegal channels.

“We can only conclude that these activities are sanctioned at the highest levels,” said Patrick Alley, director of the British-based organization Global Witness, which has made extensive study of Congo’s mineral industry.

Read the whole terrible story here

And what has Canada done to assist the UN and the Congolese people?  Nada:

Allan Thompson, a Carleton University journalism professor and head of the Rwanda Initiative at the school, found two instances where Canada was asked by the UN, informally, to lead the Congo mission: 2003 and earlier this year. Canada’s help is seen by many as particularly significant because the country can send officials who speak French, the official language of Congo, and because Canada is well-regarded internationally.

However, Canada has rejected calls to lead the mission. Instead, Ottawa has opted to focus its attention and resources on the Afghanistan mission. The decision is seen by some as perhaps the most significant sign that Canada is moving further away from its internationally recognized role in global peacekeeping.

Read the whole article here

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