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Congo’s Conflict Minerals: Soldiers Stepping In Where Rebels Left Off?

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Congo’s Conflict Minerals: Soldiers Stepping In Where Rebels Left Off?

Posted by Laura Heaton on October 29, 2009

Congo's Conflict Minerals: Soldiers Stepping In Where Rebels Left Off?

The Congolese military’s campaign against the FDLR has left a very visible scar on the civilian population in the region. But the Congolese military and its U.N. backers tout the success of the eight-month military offensive by noting that they’ve neutralized many FDLR rebels (over a thousand repatriated to Rwanda and upwards of 300 killed) and cut them off from some of the mineral mines they operated (ruthlessly, I might add).

A new piece in today’s Wall Street Journal highlights the complexities of even these so-called successes. Who is left to fill the void in the mines where the FDLR once operated?

"As long as the region remains so militarized, even more now with these operations, it’s very likely that the minerals are very directly profiting — if not [militia groups] — then the army itself."

So said Carina Tertsakian, a researcher with London-based Global Witness, a group that works to expose links between resource exploitation and conflict. Military sources quoted in the WSJ article flatly deny the allegation, but as journalist Sarah Childress reports:

During a recent visit to one cassiterite mine in Nyampego, a tiny village in South Kivu, tall, lanky Congolese soldiers patrolled the mine or lazed on the mountaintop, machine guns slung over their shoulders.

A representative from a company purchasing the refined minerals added – without even questioning whether the military is involved in the mines – that the military takeover of some of the mines has made it even more difficult to trace which minerals are mined legally.

The change in management has left the miners themselves in a difficult place indeed.

Don’t miss the full article here.


Photo: Soldiers in eastern Congo (AP)