How DR Congo’s rebels make their money

BBC – By Mark Doyle,  BBC international development correspondent

A controversial UN report on the Democratic Republic of Congo has focussed attention on Rwanda’s alleged role in the current army mutiny, but the document also reveals intriguing details about how rebels in the area make their money.

It lists bank robberies and extortion rackets taxing charcoal and cows as some of the activities of the insurgents in east of the country.

The recent increase in violence was partly caused by government attempts to end racketeering by parts of the army, including the mining of precious minerals such as tin and gold.

Cynics might say the government army wanted to reassert its own control over these rackets. But in any case it is clear recent events were part of a long-standing struggle by Kinshasa to establish control over the east.

The legal and illegal export of precious minerals from the fabulously rich soils of eastern DR Congo is a multi-million dollar business in itself.

But in the run-up to breaking away from the national army in April, rebels also resorted to blatant criminality and robbed the International Bank for Africa (BIAC) in the main eastern city of Goma – twice.

On the first occasion, the UN study says, soldiers snatched $1m (£640,000), the currency of choice for well-off Congolese. Read more…

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