President Paul Kagame of Rwanda is no neutral observer when it comes to the Democratic Republic of Congo. His attempts to mould events there have often exacerbated a conflict now in its 14th year.
Occasionally, though, Mr Kagame has a way of stating the obvious about his giant neighbour that shows up the failure of other would-be meddlers. There are two prerequisites, he remarked to me late last year, if peace is to be restored to the territory over which the Kinshasa government theoretically presides.
“If they could have a strong army, that would help them. But they should also have a political system that works. They need to have both ideally, but at least they should have one. To lack both is terrible!”
Despite hosting the most expensive United Nations mission ever undertaken in Africa, Congo is no closer today to having either.
UNITED NATIONS -- The U.N. Security Council on Monday renewed sanctions against rebel groups in eastern Congo, despite a U.N. report that said the measures had so far failed to stop exports of gold and other minerals that have financed a decadelong war there in which millions of civilians have been killed.
Monday's resolution asks U.N. member nations to "ensure importers, processing industries and consumers of Congolese mineral products under their jurisdiction exercise due diligence on their suppliers and on the origin of the minerals they purchase."
The resolution doesn't mention any companies or countries, but the U.N. experts' report, which is to be released in the next few weeks, does. The report, which was reviewed by news organizations including The Wall Street Journal, blames Uganda, Rwanda and the United Arab Emirates for running a trading network of smuggled gold and other minerals.
This Sunday "60 Minutes" will present an investigation into how the global gold industry is helping fuel violence and chaos in the Congo.
CBS reporter Scott Pelley's investigation found that conflict in the region was often to do with different militias seeking control over valuable natural resources.
"If you do a conflict analysis, you will find that when there are spikes in violence, it has something to do with contestation over the mineral resources, gold and the rest of them," John Prendergast tells Pelley. Prendergast worked in the Clinton administration on Africa policy, and co-founded "The Enough Project," which works to expose war crimes.
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 30 (Reuters) - The U.S. envoy to the United Nations sharply criticized Khartoum on Monday over a U.N. report that accused the Sudanese army of harassing and threatening international peacekeepers in Darfur.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in his latest report on the U.N.-African Union peacekeeping mission in Darfur, known as UNAMID, that limits on the freedom of movement of UNAMID personnel violated an agreement with Khartoum on their deployment and made it difficult to protect civilians. "The United States is particularly concerned about ... the secretary-general's report of some 42 instances in which UNAMID personnel and patrols have been denied freedom of movement and access," U.S. Ambassador Susan Rice told reporters after a meeting of the Security Council on Sudan.
UNITED NATIONS, Nov 30 (Reuters) - The United States and other world powers should impose sanctions on key members of the Sudanese government for refusing to end violence in Darfur and south Sudan, a report by an anti-genocide group said on Monday.
Sudan's U.N. Ambassador Abdalmahmoud Abdalhaleem reacted angrily to the report, calling the Enough Project, a Washington-based anti-genocide group, "war mongers."
The Enough Project's report said there was a risk of a new civil war and warned that nationwide elections next year and a 2011 referendum on whether the oil-rich and semi-autonomous south should secede from the Khartoum-led north would not be free and fair.
The price of gold set another all-time record this past week. There's demand for gold for investments, for circuits in cell phones and computers, and, in this holiday season, for jewelry. But there's another price being paid for gold that you probably haven't heard about.
Gold and other minerals are funding the deadliest war since World War II. More than five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Years ago, the jewelry industry banned the trafficking in so-called blood diamonds, but the same hasn't happened with gold.
In the heart of central Africa, "60 Minutes" found a campaign of rape and murder being funded largely by gold that is exported to the world.
VOA's co-host Vincent Makori talks to Sasha Lezhnev, Executive Director of the Grassroots Reconciliation Group and co-author of the Enough Project paper on Congo's minerals. Sasha explains how the minerals are fueling conflicts in the region. He also gives the web link to address the problem at: http://www.raisehopeforcongo.org.
Thanks to the work of activist groups like the Enough Project and the Genocide Intervention Network, the term "conflict minerals" has begun to seep into the vernacular of those of us who follow foreign affairs. Simply put, conflict minerals are the few minerals that are at the heart of the war in Eastern Congo. These minerals -- which include Tin ore (cassiterite), tantalite (coltan), tungsten as well as gold— are used in electronic devices such as cell phones, laptops and MP3 players. Profits from the export of these minerals have fueled the deadliest conflict since World War II.
Well, today, U.S. Representative Jim McDermott pledged to do something about it. He will introduce the Minerals Trade Act of 2009, which as Laura Heaton explains, "would help set up a system for auditing mineral ores or their derivatives, ultimately requiring that companies importing products containing these essential minerals declare whether their goods are 'conflict free.'"
NEW HAVEN — The young woman, barely out of her teens, sits on her bed with her two young children and peers out a window.
Surrounded by a diaphanous curtain of mosquito netting, the image could be an artistic reflection of a home scene.
Life for the three, however, has been anything but normal. Sophie, 20, was kidnapped and held for almost three years in the Congo bush. Raped repeatedly, she had one child in the forest and was pregnant again when she escaped.
The 7-by-10-foot color portrait, printed on fabric and photographed by photojournalist and MacArthur “genius grant” fellow Lynsey Addario, is one of 38 stunning photographs of on-going violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the particularly lethal consequences for women and children.