Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Lucrative Strife in Congo

The continuing violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo is being fuelled by western companies who are buying the country's minerals without properly checking their origins, a new report alleges today.

Global Witness says the Congolese army and other armed groups in the east of the country control much of the mining and trade in tin ore (cassiterite), coltan, wolframite – often using forced labour.

The report argues the trade is prolonging the 12-year conflict there, which has seen mass killings and rape. About 100,000 people have been driven from their homes in the past few months alone.

"As long as the warring parties can fund themselves through international trade, they will continue to be able to inflict widespread violence on the population," said Patrick Alley, the director of Global Witness.

The report calls for UN sanctions against foreign firms that buy the minerals from intermediaries without exploring who was profiting from their purchase. Many of the firms accused are Belgian but Global Witness also calls for UN sanctions against a British firm, the London-based Amalgamated Metal Corporation (AMC), whose subsidiary, Thaisarco, buys tin ore in eastern Congo....

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