From British daily The Morning Star:
Britain is ‘funding Congo‘s holocaust’
Monday 20 July 2009
by Paddy McGuffin
The government is accused today of failing to act over allegations that British firms are funding mass slaughter and rape in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by continuing to trade in conflict minerals.
A study, published by corporate monitoring group Global Witness, alleges that two British firms Afrimex and Amalgamated Metals Corporation (AMC) are among a number of companies which purchase minerals that fund armed groups in the DRC.
Campaigners have argued that, by doing so, they are fuelling the murderous conflict which has claimed over five million lives.
Both government and rebel troops have committed horrendous human rights abuses, including rape and mass murder.
The report looks at the role of foreign companies in the mining areas of the eastern DRC.
These areas are controlled by both rebels and the national army which Global Witness state “violently exploit civilians to retain access to valuable minerals” including cassiterite (tin ore), coltan and gold.
Global Witness alleges that AMC subsidiary Thaisarco continues to buy minerals from mines controlled by the FDLR rebel group and that, in 2008, Middlesex-based Afrimex was found to have breached guidelines by purchasing minerals from suppliers which made payments to a rebel group.
The campaign group says that the government was well aware of the situation but failed to act.
Global Witness director Patrick Alley said: “The British government is the largest bilateral aid donor to the DRC and a key diplomatic player.
“Its failure to hold British companies to account is undermining its own efforts and allowing one of the main drivers of the conflict to continue unchecked.
“We have asked the government countless times to pay more attention to the role of minerals in fuelling the conflict and yet it seems that it is more concerned with protecting its companies’ economic interests.”
Ben Mussanzi, a human rights campaigner from the DRC now resident in England, knows only too well the cost of the war.
He was forced to flee after he escaped a lynch mob intent on murdering him.
He still has family in the DRC.
Mr Mussanzi told the Morning Star: “We know what these firms are doing and they know what they are doing also.
“These firms have been named in a UN report as far back as 2001.
“They see the war as an opportunity to turn a quick profit. Nothing has changed.
“These companies are indirectly fuelling the conflict.
“An estimated 5.5 million people have been killed so far. It is a silent holocaust.
“Companies like these undermine the work we are doing and the British government should be holding to account anyone involved in the illicit trade in the Congo.”
In conclusion, Mr Alley said: “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.”
AMC strongly denied the allegations.
Afrimex have so far not responded to the Morning Star.