A new confidential report, issued by a UN-mandated group of Congo experts, adds even more troubling layers to an already dismal picture of eastern Congo. The report’s bleak accounting of the situation describes cases of charitable groups funneling money to rebels; soldiers attacking and raping civilians; local army commanders making $250,000 a month from taxing the movement of exploited resources; and support for the rebels from senior leadership in the Congolese army and neighboring nations. Operations against the FDLR have failed to dislodge the rebel group’s powerful political, military, and economic hold on the region. In great detail, the report describes extensive networks — operated by the FDLR and former CNDP rebels — that illegally mine, tax, and export natural resources, including gold, cassiterite, coltan, and timber. The resources slip out of the country with the help of traders and officials in Tanzania, Burundi, and Uganda. The report further describes how former CNDP officers, now integrated into the Congolese army, continue to profit from their deployment to areas in eastern Congo.
Implicit in the report is a criticism of the UN’s approach to the Congo, where, until recently, the UN aided Congolese army operations. The UN Security Council is expected to discuss the report this week. According to The New York Times, one United Nations official described the conflict as “messy and ragged” and admitted that “there is a lot in [the report] that makes [the UN] look complicit.”