Minerals fuel DRC war

2003-09-01 09:23
Bunia - Ethnic militias backed by neighbouring states who battled this year in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo are ravaging the hard-to-reach region for its untapped mineral resources.

DRC's volatile Ituri province, where a multinational UN force is taking over from a French-led force on Monday to prevent deadly inter-ethnic clashes, is home to rich deposits of gemstones, various minerals and oil.

"Foreign powers, with the collaboration of our Congolese friends, are organising wars with our country's resources," Emmanuel Kataliko, the late archbishop of Bukavu in northeastern DRC, said in 1999.

"Our country, and we ourselves, have become an object to be exploited," he added.

Colette Braeckman, a Belgian journalist and expert on central Africa's Great Lakes region, said the archbishop's analysis "identified the cause of multiple conflicts that are laying waste to DRC: the draw of resources in a country that is undoubtedly one of the last 'wild west' zones on earth."

In her book, The New Predators, Braeckman explains that in the era of economic globalisation, "there are no more taboos. The entire world has become fair game for multinational corporations looking for short-term profits."

Deposits of diamonds, copper, coal, iron, cobalt, uranium, tin, niobium and coltan are largely untouched in DRC, she says, as opposed to most other parts of the world, where mineral deposits are nearly or totally tapped out.

Coltan is a rare ore found in commercial quantities in eastern DRC that is refined into metallic tantalum, a costly material used in cellphones, laptop computers and other small electronic devices.

Hydrocarbon deposits located under Lake Kivu and Lake Albert, located near the powder-keg town of Bunia in Ituri province, are also highly coveted.

Illegally mined ores and gems are smuggled through the capitals of Rwanda and Uganda, which border DRC, or through Zimbabwe to the south - and then sold throughout the world.

All three countries have been involved in DRC's civil war, launched in 1998 and supposedly ended by a peace deal formalised in April, which has left about 2,5 million people dead, either in combat or through disease and malnutrition.

But fighting has raged in various parts of DRC since then, notably in the Ituri region, where inter-tribal fighting has killed 50 000 people since 1999.

In a report to the UN Security Council in October last year, a panel of experts accused "elite networks" of high-ranking DRC officials and foreign countries of using the war as a front to plunder DRC of its natural resources.

"The elite networks maintain the facade of rebel administrations in the occupied areas" to generate and then steal public revenues, it said.

"The looting that was previously conducted by the armies themselves has been replaced by organized systems of embezzlement, tax fraud, extortion, the use of stock options as kickbacks and diversion of state funds."


Read News24’s Comments Policy

Inside News24


Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Deal of the week!

Petrol generators from R1399, save up to R350. While stocks last. Shop now!

30% off Pampers!

Save 30% when you buy 3 or more selected pampers products. While stocks last. Shop now!

This week only - 30% off books!

Get 30% off when you buy 2 or more books. Many titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!

New range of Samsung smartphones!

Samsung Galaxy A3, A5 and Alpha now available at kalahari.com. while stocks last. Shop now!

Buy 3 eBooks & only pay for 2!

The cheapest of the 3 titles will be free. Many more titles to choose from. While stocks last. Shop now!


You are very people sensitive today and there is a tendency to put too much energy on service and outer obligations. The balance...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.


Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.

Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.