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23 April 2017 19:51 (South Africa)

Leaked report suggests UN going nowhere in DRC peacekeeping

Despite having 18,000 peacekeepers in the Democratic Republic of Congo, UN-backed operations against rebels in the lawless east of the country have failed, according to a leaked report. Most of the peacekeepers are concentrated along the area bordering Rwanda and Burundi, where Hutu militants involved in Rwanda's 1994 genocide continue to receive arms and recruit fighters funded by illegal sales of the giant country's vast mineral resources. The UN is fighting alongside Congolese government troops, but killings and rapes by renegade national army units have inflamed the humanitarian crisis. The leaked report was mandated by the UN to look into violations of an arms embargo in the DRC. It draws attention to what it says is a complete lack of transparency in the mineral trade, allowing middlemen to buy tin and gold from areas controlled by rebel groups, including some high officials in the DRC, Burundi and Rwanda. The army also recruits ex-rebel fighters, which creates smuggling networks that can't be controlled. The associated anarchy and violence have led the UN to recently drop its support for DRC army units accused of widespread killings and violence against civilians. The latest report suggests an urgent and wide-ranging review of the UN presence in the DRC is now an absolute necessity. Another measure of the problems the DRC faces comes after reports that the country is accusing Canada of holding up progress towards rescheduling its foreign debt, which centres on a mining dispute. Ottawa now says it will provide the needed financing assurances, but wants more time to consult on the current investment environment. The DRC has been badly hit by the global commodities bust, and politicking over mining rights. Earlier, the IMF said the country must reschedule its debt with Paris Club creditor nations, before it could qualify to enter a global debt-relief programme.
Read more: BBC, Reuters

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