Annual Report: Congo (Dem. Rep. of) 2010

May 28, 2010

Annual Report: Congo (Dem. Rep. of) 2010

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  • In April, Amnesty International delegates witnessed children working at a gold mine at Goné, Mwenga territory, South-Kivu province. Other miners were using mercury, without protection, to soak up particles of gold from mud in the riverbed.

Child soldiers

An estimated 3,000 to 4,000 children were serving with armed groups in eastern DRC, including new recruits. The LRA abducted several hundred people, mainly children, from Orientale province, northeastern DRC, to hold in domestic or sexual slavery and to use as fighters. Many children also still served with the army, although the FARDC formally ended child recruitment in 2004. They included children associated with armed groups who were integrated into the FARDC in early 2009. The army also used children as porters during operations. UN and NGO child protection and community reintegration programmes for former child soldiers remained under-resourced.

Internally displaced people and refugees

By the end of the year, around 2 million people were internally displaced, including hundreds of thousands displaced by the Kimia II offensive. Around half of the displaced were children. Tens of thousands of displaced people in less secure areas remained outside the reach of humanitarian assistance. Many were in extremely poor health following days or weeks of flight.

An estimated 160,000 DRC nationals were expelled from Angola to the DRC between January and October, peaking in September (see Angola entry). These arbitrary mass expulsions were carried out under deplorable humanitarian conditions and accompanied by other human rights violations, including sexual violence, torture and other illtreatment by Angolan security forces. A large number of those expelled reportedly drowned during river crossings or were asphyxiated in overcrowded vehicles. In September, in retaliation, the DRC authorities expelled thousands of Angolan nationals, including an undetermined number of people recognized as refugees. In October, both countries agreed to stop the expulsions.

Arms trade and exploitation of natural resources

In November, the UN Group of Experts concluded that the FARDC, as well as the FDLR and other armed groups, continued to benefit from systematic exploitation of DRC's mineral and other natural resources. The Group's report highlighted instances of gold smuggling by the FDLR to Uganda, Burundi and the United Arab Emirates; of collaboration between FARDC officers and the FDLR; and of suspected arms trafficking to the FDLR from Tanzania and Burundi. The report alleged that the CNDP had retained control of much of its weaponry, despite integration of its forces into the FARDC. It presented evidence of states' failure to comply with the UN arms embargo and sanctions, claiming that such instances "seriously undermined the credibility of the sanctions regime".