Diamonds Still Fueling Conflicts in Angola and Congo

April 17, 2001

Diamonds Still Fueling Conflicts in Angola and Congo

A United Nations panel of experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo released a report Monday saying the conflict in Congo is fueled by foreign armies seeking access to the country's rich mineral resources. Five key minerals – diamonds, copper, coltan, cobalt and gold – are exploited by foreign armies in a systematic and systemic way, the report says. The U.N. panel also found private companies fuel the conflict by trading arms for natural resources or facilitating access to funds for weapons purchases.

The UN panel recommended the Security Council immediately declare an embargo on the import or export of certain minerals from or to Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda until the countries' involvement in the exploitation of resources is clarified to the U.N., and any country violating the embargo should face sanctions. Other recommendations of the panel include: all U.N. member states should freeze the financial assets of the rebel movements and their leaders, and the Security Council should declare an immediate embargo on supply of weapons and all military material to the rebel groups operating in Congo.

In another U.N. report released Monday, U.N. Secretary General Kofi Annan says UNITA rebels in Angola are still receiving supplies from abroad and raising cash through illegal diamond sales despite the U.N. sanctions imposed on the group. Annan has asked the Security Council to extend the U.N. mission in Angola by another six months because fighting is still raging and civilians are still victims of serious and recurring human rights abuses.

- by Julia M. Duncan