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Enough Project Report Calls for Certification of Congo Minerals to Break Deadly Grip of Mafia-Like Networks
WASHINGTON - February 1 - Despite an official ban on mineral mining, the trade in conflict minerals from eastern Congo continues, and is dominated by a mafia-like network of military, political, rebel and business interests, raising the urgency for an international certification process for the lucrative minerals industry, a new report from the Enough Project said.
The report, "Why a Certification Process for Conflict Minerals is Urgent: A View from North Kivu," is based on Enough Project interviews from eastern Congo over the last few months. Enough's field research shows how armed groups in the region, especially around the region of Walikale, where some of the worst incidents of mass rape have occurred, are profiting from the extraction and taxation of conflict minerals.
"The mass rape of over 300 women in Walikale this past summer was a shocking reminder of the humanitarian implications of the unregulated minerals trade in Congo and the failure of the state to protect its citizens," Enough Co-founder John Prendergast said. "If the U.S. doesn't lead in the construction of an international certification process that takes the profits from illegally and violently extracted minerals out of the hands of the armed groups, the incentive structure will remain biased towards impunity, conflict, and a predatory state."
The mineral ores that produce tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold - all vital to consumer electronics manufacturers - are mined in eastern Congo, where more than five million people have died as a result of more than a dozen years of conflict. Last year Congress passed legislation requiring companies to disclose their use of minerals from Congo. However, a credible certification process to regulate the minerals trade within the region remains needed or else a de facto embargo of Congolese minerals will result.
"Armed groups claim to be fighting one another for a cause, but they have in fact become business partners in mineral-rich Walikale and in other areas of eastern Congo," said Enough Analyst Fidel Bafilemba. "Despite a ban on mineral exports, commanders are abandoning civilian protection posts to compete for control of mines, earning millions of dollars per month from extracting and heavily taxing minerals."
Read the full report: "Why a Certification Process for Conflict Minerals is Urgent: A View from North Kivu."