'Mass-scale looting' in Congo, says UN report

Published Apr 16, 2001


New York - Foreign armies, particularly of Rwanda and Uganda, are involved in "mass-scale looting" of Congo's mineral resources, pillaging everything from gold to livestock, said a United Nations report released on Monday.

The 56-page survey was prepared by a five-member independent panel appointed by Secretary-General Kofi Annan.

The panel called for an embargo on trade in Congo's diamonds, gold and minerals by Rwanda, Uganda and Burundi, and a freeze on the financial assets of all rebels.

It recommended that the World Bank and International Monetary Fund suspend support to these countries, saying memos showed the bank was well aware that Uganda's improved economy was due to gold and diamond exports, few of which it produced itself.

"Almost all the belligerents are benefiting from the conflict. The only losers are the Congolese people," said Safiatou Ba-N'Daw of Ivory Coast, chair of the panel.

According to the report, among the many resources exploited are gold, diamonds and coltan, which is used in nuclear reactor parts.

Eventually, imports reach firms based in wealthy first-world countries.

Belgium's Sabena Cargo airlines transports much of the illegal resources and Citibank facilitated transactions in coltan, the report claimed. - Reuters

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