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Rights group: Congo military withdraws from mine

Rights group: Congo military withdraws from mine

Global Witness urged Congo to support conflict-free mining after the army withdrew from a major tin-ore mine, the international rights group said in a Wednesday report.
Mineral trade and mining has fueled conflict in eastern Congo for over a decade, but Global Witness said Wednesday that there are now "unprecedented opportunities" to source conflict-free minerals from recently demilitarized mines.
Global Witness said the mine in Bisie, in volatile eastern Congo, will not remain "free of negative elements for long" after the army withdrew in March after five years.
The report did not say why the army left the lucrative mine.
"Bisie, as the region's most significant mine site, is the best place to start this process," it said.
Global Witness called on civilian authorities, peacekeeping troops and private companies to step in and claim the area.
Dozens of armed groups operate in mineral-rich eastern Congo and all are involved in mining.
For over a decade, these groups have funded their fighting with profits from eastern Congo's mineral trade. The local population has suffered because of the violent competition to control the region's richest mines, the report said.
The group also called on companies already in mining areas to implement international standards. Global Witness said failure to adhere to those standards is "holding up efforts to break the link between minerals and armed violence in eastern Congo.
"Progress on the ground is limited in scope and remains fragile, however," the group said. "Rebels and (Congolese army) troops still occupy numerous mining areas in North and South Kivu and the Congolese government has yet to tackle the impunity of those illegally involved in the minerals trade."
The government in March lifted a six-month ban on mining in eastern Congo. Critics had said the embargo only prompted armed groups to loot minerals.
Global Witness said eastern Congo, whose mining activities account for 35 percent of the province's revenue, could also set an example for the rest of Congo and allow the large central African country to improve its economy. Congo has vast reserves of gold, coltan, copper and diamonds.


Updated : 2021-10-20 03:33 GMT+08:00