Illegal exploitation of resources in DR of Congo taking human toll –

Following two months of fact-finding within and around the Great Lakes region, particularly in the eastern DRC, the Panel of Experts on the Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources and Other Forms of Wealth in the country issued a preliminary report of its findings to the Security Council.The panel says that it has gained a better understanding of the varying roles of the different foreign armies and armed groups – both foreign and Congolese – in the exploitation of resources and in the country’s continuing war.With various strategies being employed to divert revenues for personal gain or to pay foreign armies – either to maintain their support against rival groups or to finance continuing, existing military operations – their immediate effect has been “the further collapse of most local economies and the deepening impoverishment of most Congolese families,” according to the report.Meanwhile, the humanitarian toll of this continuing exploitation is widespread, especially in the eastern part of the DRC. “Local populations, including children, are being conscripted and used as forced labour in the extraction of resources by some military forces in different regions,” the report says.Other tactics, such as the destruction of the infrastructure for agricultural production, are allegedly used by different armed parties to force people to participate in extraction work, leading in part to increased food insecurity.”Acute malnutrition rates are alarmingly high,” the report notes. “While mortality levels vary greatly from place to place depending on the extent of conflict and the availability of health services, overall they are among the highest in the world.” read more