Like most armed conflicts, as soon as it breaks out they quickly find ways of not only financing themselves but also bringing enormous profits to its main actors – and the unfolding wars in the Congo have been no different. Mass systematic scramble for Congo's enormous treasure trove of diamonds, gold, copper, cobalt, coltan, tin, timber and coffee, have been, according to the UN, the sole driving force of the unfolding wars.

The wrongly and yet overly-reported tribal bloodlettings status ascribed to the unfolding wars have not only been used as an instrument to justify the persistence of the armed conflicts by its main actors; but have cooperated the conflict into the long-held stereotypes that Africans are interminably trapped in "tribal bloodletting," hence, rationalizing the continue ambiguous and reluctant passive actions of the world community when voicing the conflicts whilst the real driving force is nothing but economic interests.

Some of these natural resources, the Alluvial diamonds for instance, can be found in a myriad of rivers criss-crossing the Congo; and its extraction requires little prior knowledge or technical equipment. Such availability and easy access to these natural resources, the UN has claimed, not only sustains but actively perpetuates the wars.

Behind these mass pillages, and indeed behind most of the mass killing and atrocities being perpetuated, are two principle actors – the Rwandan and Ugandan government, in alliance with certain Congolese armed political groups. Together, these alliances have actively continued to fuel interethnic conflicts by using the treat of their own security to justify and legitimize their military occupations and controls of Congo’s richly diverse mineral areas.

In spite of the fact that neither diamonds nor coltan can be found on the Rwandan or Ugandan soils, in 2001 a UN-appointed panel of investigators on the systematic “illegal” exploitation of Congo’s natural resources and other forms of wealth delivered two groundbreaking reports unraveling large volumes of primary evidence implicating Rwanda and Uganda in the systematic plundering of Congo’s gold, coltan and diamonds (to only name a few)

The true revenue that both countries have made over the past decade will, most probably, remain a mystery but the UN-appointed panel estimated that between 1999 and 2000, Rwanda, alone, made some US 250 Millions from coltan and US 3 Million from diamonds looted in Eastern Congo; and its counterpart Uganda made some US 3 Million from diamonds and around US 150 Million from coltan and gold export (although Uganda produces no coltan and only small artisan gold).

Another driving force of the unfolding wars has been tax revenue in areas under tyrannical administrations of warlords backed by Rwanda and Uganda, in alliance with certain Congolese armed groups. From 1998 to 2000, purchasers of diamonds in the Rwanda-controlled DRC areas had to pay an average 5% of the diamonds value to the military administration. This was, however, tripled in 2001 where diamonds purchasers were asked to pay 15% of the diamond value, out of which one-third was kept by the RCD-Goma and two third taken by Rwanda; whilst Uganda was reported to have earned around US 5 million a month from tax levy on its controlled DRC territories

Surely the substantial influx of billions of US dollars drawn by Rwanda and Uganda from the still on-going systematic looting of diamonds, timber, coffee and coltan from the Congo would not have been forthcoming without the unfolding wars. Rwanda, for instance, between 1999 and 2000, the looting of various Congo’s rich natural resources (alone) provided Rwanda with around 7-8% of its foreign earning. On the same year, revenue from coltan pillaged in the Congo by Rwanda provided all Rwanda needed to wage its war in the Congo.

Whilst Rwanda and Uganda and their sponsored Congolese armed groups are filling their pockets, the scale of sexual atrocities, death toll or speed at which diseases or condition such as HIV AIDS or Fistula are spreading as a direct result of the unfolding wars go beyond the meaning of humanitarian catastrophes, war crimes or crimes against humanity.

The figures are staggering. You could take all lives lost in Bosnia and Rwanda 1994, then add Darfur, then add a 9-11 every single day for 356 days and then add the Great Tsunami that struck Asia in 2005 go through Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Put all of those together, multiply them by 2 and you still won’t reach the number of lives that have been lost in the Congo since the war first ignited. International NGOs claim that more than 5.4 million have been killed so far; but experts and doctors on the ground count more than 10 Million killed.


Anonymous said...

There is a bill pending in the U.S. Senate to require imports of Coltan to be certified as conflict free, similar to the legislation that was to stop the trafficing in blood diamonds. Strangely, there has been very little publicity about this pending legislation and you can safely predict that the lobbyists for cell phone, computer and other high tech manufacturers will get the bill killed before it advances.