Human Rights

From Child Miner to Jewelry Store: The Six Steps to Conflict Gold in Congo

The conflict-gold rush is thriving in eastern Congo. Recent U.S. legislation and supply-chain pressure from tech companies has made it difficult for armed groups in the region to sell the 3-T minerals—tin, tantalum, and tungsten—and as a result, rebels and army commanders have increasingly turned to gold. In a report released today, the Enough Project looks at the illegal conflict-gold trade in eastern Congo that is fueling one of the most violent conflicts in the world.  Read More »

Gold Is Now the Most Lucrative Conflict Mineral from Eastern Congo: Enough Project

Date: 
Oct 25, 2012

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
 
Contact: Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org, +1 202-459-1219
 
GOMA, DR CONGO and WASHINGTON, DC – Gold smuggled from eastern Congo’s war zone is now the most lucrative conflict mineral and is ending up at jewelry stores and banks, according to a new investigative report by the Enough Project. The study found that following a 65 percent drop in profits from  the conflict minerals tin, tungsten, and tantalum, armed groups have increasingly turned to smuggling the fourth conflict mineral, gold, to generate income that finances mass atrocities in eastern Congo. The armed groups use poorly paid miners, who work in dangerous conditions, including thousands of children as young as eight years old. The study maps out how conflict gold makes its way from eastern Congo to consumers worldwide who purchase it in the form of wedding rings and watches, and investment banks that buy gold bars.
 
The study found that over $600 million of gold is illegally smuggled out of the Democratic Republic of Congo every year in a six-step process. Rebel groups such as the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, are smuggling gold, and the Rwandan-backed M23 rebel group is attempting to retake control of gold mines and trading routes.
 
Sasha Lezhnev, author of the report and Enough Project Senior Policy Analyst, said: 
“The conflict gold rush has hit eastern Congo’s war zone. Armed militias such as M23 and the FDLR are financing their operations with conflict gold. As our investigation revealed, smuggled gold continues to flow through to gold chains, rings, and banks through a six-step process. The Dodd-Frank law on conflict minerals is starting to spur reform in the gold sector, but lucrative gold smuggling continues unabated. It is time for more effective action.”
The report, “From Child Miner to Jewelry Store: The Six Steps of Congo’s Conflict Gold,” tracks the transnational trade from the mines in eastern Congo to end products sold to consumers.
 
The six main steps of the conflict gold trade (laid out in an accompanying infographic) are:
1. Mines operated by warlords in eastern Congo;
2. Congolese smugglers working with armed groups; 
3. Regional smugglers in Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania; 
4. Refiners in Dubai; 
5. Banks in Switzerland; and
6. Jewelers in the U.S., India and China. 
At the lowest end of the chain, gold miners in eastern Congo face some of the world’s worst working conditions and include up to 40 percent child miners, as young as eight years old. A handful of exporters in the region work with armed groups and smugglers to control the trade by pre-purchasing gold directly from the mines. A large percentage of conflict gold funds armed groups, many of whom use mass rape and violence to intimidate local populations in an effort to secure control of mines, trading routes, and other strategic areas.
 
According to the report, the majority of conflict-gold mines is located in South Kivu, making up an estimated 40-50 percent of Congo’s overall gold production. Gold from 15 major mines in North and South Kivu is mainly sold to smugglers, who illegally transport 99 percent out of the country to neighboring Uganda, Burundi, and Tanzania, and then take it to Dubai.
 
Enough Project Executive Director John C. Bradshaw said:
“Governments and companies need to do more to ensure transparency in the gold supply chain and to hold accountable armed groups and their business partners who profit from conflict gold.  To end the conflict gold trade and create a legitimate market that improves living standards in eastern Congo, companies need to invest in a formalized, traceable, and certified conflict-free gold sector.”
This is the first of two Enough Project papers on the illegal conflict gold trade from eastern Congo. The second will offer recommendations on how to formalize the trade, cut down on smuggling, and create jobs that provide living wages for Congolese miners.
 
 
View or download a conflict gold photo slideshow (credit Sasha Lezhnev/Enough Project): http://www.flickr.com/photos/enoughproject/sets/72157631828402860/ 
 
View or download an infographic mapping out conflict gold’s six-step process: http://enoughproject.org/files/conflict-gold-infographic.png
 
 
Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.  

 

 

U.S. Companies Making Strides to be Conflict-free in Congo, Despite Industry Lawsuit

Late last week the National Association of Manufacturers, or NAM, and the U.S. Chamber of Commerce made their move, initiating a legal challenge against the SEC and requesting that “the rule be modified or set aside in whole or in part.” But plenty of companies are already working to become conflict free.  Read More »

Congo Dispatch: Key Minerals Smuggling Ring is in Good Health in Goma

Details from a confidential U.N. Group of Experts report on Congo emerged last week that show that smuggling of minerals into Rwanda and Burundi is on the rise, in spite of Congolese government efforts to regulate the trade. Furthermore, it seems that the profits from minerals clandestinely transported across the border are being used to fund the M23 rebellion, which began in April and has left half a million people displaced.

An incident and court case that transpired in Goma earlier this month, described in a new Enough field dispatch, provides a compelling illustration of how those smuggling operations work.  Read More »

Compromising with Evil: An archival history of greater Sudan, 2007 – 2012

The result of years of research, Sudan specialist and professor Eric Reeves today published a new eBook entitled Compromising with Evil that serves as a comprehensive archive of the atrocities committed in Sudan over the past five years. In this guest blog post Reeves explains the motivations behind the project.  Read More »

Mbeki's Moment to Support Lasting Peace in the Sudans

Date: 
Oct 22, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Tracy Fehr, tfehr@enoughproject.org, +1 202-459-1219

WASHINGTON – Today, the Enough Project issued its first publication in a series of policy briefs focusing on the international community’s extraordinary opportunity to help support peace within Sudan and between the two Sudans.  The brief discusses the need for President Mbeki and the African Union to take bold and specific actions to marshal the governments of Sudan and South Sudan closer to a more comprehensive peace. 

According to the Enough Project, President Mbeki’s report this week to the African Union Peace and Security Council offers him the unparalleled opportunity to provide his recommendations on possible resolutions to the outstanding issues and implementation mechanisms for those agreements already concluded between Sudan and South Sudan.

"The recent agreements between Sudan and South Sudan were a critical step forward, but for lasting peace between the two countries, the more difficult remaining issues need to be addressed at once," said John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-founder. "President Mbeki's role is indispensable this week. If he presents a strong, fair, credible set of proposals over Abyei, other disputed areas along the border, and asks the African Union for endorsement of those proposals as the way forward between the two countries, he could catalyze a real solution. If there is ambiguity, doubt, and reversion to further negotiations, the table will be set for further conflict."

The outstanding issues include the final status of the Abyei area, the definition of the disputed and claimed areas along the North-South border, international humanitarian access to the Sudanese states of South Kordofan and Blue Nile, and direct political negotiations between the government of Sudan and the Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N. Continuing to ignore these issues would both undermine economic growth in the Sudans and pose an ongoing risk to regional stability.

“President Mbeki must seize the opportunity that his report to the A.U. offers him and table his proposal on the Abyei area in its entirety,” said Omer Ismail, Enough Project Advisor. “The proposal provides a sound basis upon which Sudan and South Sudan can settle the area’s final status and work together to ensure that the rights of local communities are protected, no matter the outcome of a referendum in Abyei.”

In addition to the outstanding issues, the policy brief notes the importance of implementation mechanisms for those agreements already signed between the governments of Sudan and South Sudan.

“Given the demonstrated tendency of the government of Sudan, in particular, to avoid implementation of agreements that it signs, internationally-backed implementation mechanisms will be critical to ensuring the success of all North-South agreements,” said Jennifer Christian, Enough Project Policy Analyst. “President Mbeki should challenge the A.U. and the U.N. to develop specific consequences that would await either party that significantly obstructs implementation of any agreements signed or proposals made, including sanctions and other measures under Chapter VII of the U.N. Charter.”

Read the full brief: “President Mbeki’s Moment: A Stand for Peace in the Two Sudans

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Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.

Op-ed: Crimes against humanity in South Kordofan and Blue Nile

Displaced Nuban people in caves in the Nuba Mountains

The government of Sudan continues to carry out indiscriminate attacks and bombardment against civilian populations, block humanitarian aid, and commit other inhumane acts against its own people. However, under the Responsibility to Protect Doctrine, the burden to protect Sudanese civilians has already shifted to the international community and swift action is required, writes Enough Project's director of policy and advocacy Renata Rendón.   Read More »

New Report Documents Government of Sudan’s Starvation Warfare Against Its Own People

Date: 
Oct 18, 2012

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact: Jonathan Hutson, jhutson@enoughproject.org,+1-202-386-1618

SOUTH KORDOFAN, Sudan – Food security conditions in South Kordofan, Sudan are dramatically declining, and malnutrition among children in the conflict-torn state is on the rise, according to a new report showing findings from the first international rapid food security and nutritional assessment conducted in South Kordofan since 2011.

According to the assessment, the prevalence of malnutrition among children in South Kordofan is “serious” bordering on “critical”—the worst or most dire World Health Organization malnutrition classification. The amount of households surviving on one meal per day has jumped to a staggering 81.5 percent, compared to only 9.5 percent one year ago, and zero percent two years ago.

More than 65 percent of households in South Kordofan have less than one week’s worth of food. This is particularly concerning because food is not readily available for purchase in the area, and incomes are scarce or non-existent. Further, due to persistent bombardment by the Sudan Armed Forces, the harvest this year is expected to be low-yielding and will run out quickly, leading to only a temporary amelioration in the dire conditions there.

John Prendergast, Enough Project Co-founder, said:

“The assessment’s findings indicate that the situation in South Kordofan today is similar to the conditions leading up to the Horn of Africa famine in 2011. If the international community does not respond to these early warning indicators in South Kordofan, the situation could have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of people. Pre-positioning of relief supplies must begin now, and all possible means of delivery need to be explored and, if negotiations over access fail, utilized.”

The nutritional assessment was carried out by an international non-governmental organization but, due to security reasons, the organization requested to remain anonymous and asked the Enough Project to publish the report. The Enough Project was responsible for the report’s final production and distribution, and had the assessment vetted by experts at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health who found its findings to be credible.

Jennifer Christian, Enough Project Sudan policy analyst and author of the accompanying policy brief, said:

“The rapid food security and nutritional assessment corroborates existing evidence of the humanitarian crisis unfolding in South Kordofan. Given the government of Sudan’s failure to comply with the terms of U.N. Security Council Resolution 2046, the U.N. Security Council must enact measures against Sudanese government officials responsible for the denial of aid into Blue Nile and South Kordofan states, and call on U.N. member States to take all measures necessary to deliver aid should the government of Sudan continue to ignore its obligations.”

For nearly a year and a half, the government of Sudan has indiscriminately targeted civilians and denied international humanitarian aid access to civilian populations in South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, particularly in areas under control of the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N.

Along with the report, the Enough Project has issued an accompanying brief outlining policy recommendations (PDF) based on the assessment’s findings. It calls on the A.U. Peace and Security Council and the U.N. Security Council to demand the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N cooperate with the Tripartite Partners in negotiating unfettered international access into the two states, and to identify consequences should a party undermine or frustrate the negotiations. If negotiated access fails, alternative channels must be utilized to ensure international humanitarian access into the two states.

The brief recommends the African Union facilitate immediate political negotiations between the government of Sudan and the SPLM-N for a cessation of hostilities agreement to create suitable conditions on the ground for the widespread delivery of humanitarian assistance and the return of displaced populations. These negotiations should also produce a long-term ceasefire agreement and a broad, inclusive political process to address the conflict’s underlying causes of social, political and economic marginalization.

The rapid nutrition and food security assessment was conducted in the more secure SPLM-N controlled areas, indicating that conditions in other parts of South Kordofan could be just as severe or worse. No similar assessment has been carried out in Blue Nile state, but the condition of refugees from Blue Nile indicates that the food security situation there may be comparable to that in South Kordofan.

Read the full report: “Rapid Food Security and Nutrition Assessment: South Kordofan” URL: http://www.enoughproject.org/files/SK%20Rapid%20Assessment%20Report.pdf (PDF)

Read the accompanying policy brief: “The Humanitarian Crisis in South Kordofan and Blue Nile: Next Steps for Policy Makers” URL: http://www.enoughproject.org/files/Humanitarian%20Crisis%20Policy%20Recs.pdf (PDF)

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Enough is a project of the Center for American Progress to end genocide and crimes against humanity. Founded in 2007, the Enough Project focuses on crises in Sudan, eastern Congo, and areas of Africa affected by the Lord’s Resistance Army. Enough’s strategy papers and briefings provide sharp field analysis and targeted policy recommendations based on a“3P” crisis response strategy: promoting durable peace, providing civilian protection, and punishing perpetrators of atrocities. Enough works with concerned citizens, advocates, and policy makers to prevent, mitigate, and resolve these crises. For more information, please visit www.enoughproject.org.

New Report: Starvation Warfare in South Kordofan’s Nuba Mountains

As the humanitarian crisis unfolds in Sudan’s South Kordofan and Blue Nile states, international humanitarian organizations have not been able to assess the nutrition and food security situation in these areas… until now. For the first time since 2011—when the government of Sudan banned all international humanitarian aid organizations from operating in the two states—an independent rapid food security and nutrition assessment has been conducted in South Kordofan state.  Read More »

New Evidence of Links from Rwanda and Uganda to Congo Rebels: What’s the Impact?

A recent confidential from the U.N. Group of Experts on Congo was leaked to Reuters yesterday that shows further evidence of Rwandan support to the M23 rebellion in eastern Congo. The report builds on earlier indictments of Rwanda's involvement in the ongoing rebellion and implicates the Ugandan government as well. What impact could this new evidence have on regional and international handling of the crisis?  Read More »

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