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IPIS Briefing April 2020 - Incident Reporting on Gold Supply Chains in eastern DR Congo

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The IPIS briefing offers a selection of articles, news and updates on natural resources, armed conflict, Business & Human Rights and arms trade.  Every month, an editorial and related publications shed a light on a specific topic in IPIS’ areas of research.

In focus: Mobile Phone-Based Incident Reporting – A Step Towards Cleaner Gold Supply Chains in Eastern DR Congo

In the news: Congo governor condemns rising insecurity at mines in gold province; South Sudan’s Graft-ridden Gold Mining Threatens the Peace; Where Are We With The Peace Deal In South Sudan?

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This briefing is produced with the financial assistance of the European Union. The contents of this document are the sole responsibility of IPIS and can under no circumstances be regarded as reflecting the position of the European Union.


IN FOCUS: 

MOBILE PHONE-BASED INCIDENT REPORTING – A STEP TOWARDS CLEANER GOLD SUPPLY CHAINS IN EASTERN DR CONGO

MOBILE PHONE-BASED INCIDENT REPORTING – A STEP TOWARDS CLEANER GOLD SUPPLY CHAINS IN EASTERN DR CONGO

On the 1st of January 2021, the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation will come into full force throughout the European Union (EU). This new law aims to ensure that EU companies meet the international responsible sourcing standards, as set out by the OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains of Minerals from Conflict Affected and High-Risk Areas (CAHRA), requiring importers, smelters and refiners to source tin, tantalum, tungsten and gold (3TG) responsibly. Annex II of the OECD Guidelines requires companies not to contribute to armed conflict and to support non-state armed groups through extraction, transport, trade and export of minerals, and to discontinue engagement with suppliers that can be linked to parties, committing serious human rights abuses. With regard to risk assessments for upstream mining actors, the OECD Guidance recommends to review not only impact of mineral extraction on conflict and human rights, but also on environmental harm in the country of origin.

Limited progress on traceability for gold

The 2001 report of the United Nations (UN) Panel of Experts reported minerals exploitation as source of financing conflicts in the resource-rich eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), where revenues of illicit mineral trade (tin, tantalum, gold) have been used to finance armed groups, fueling thus regional wars that have devastated the country during the past decades. Notwithstanding a number of international initiatives to restrict conflict mineral trade in the Great Lake Region – among others by the United States government (section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Act) -, interference of armed and/or criminal groups and human rights violations in mineral supply chains in eastern DRC, are far from eradicated. IPIS has been investigating the link between armed conflict and mineral resources in eastern DRC for more than ten years:  the 2019 IPIS report on artisanal mining in eastern DRC concludes that, although responsible sourcing has made progress over the past years, armed interference in artisanal mining continues, especially in remote areas. Gold seems to be the predominant conflict mineral in eastern DRC: IPIS reported in 2016 that 64% of gold miners operated in the presence of an armed actor, compared to 21% of 3T (tin, tantalum, tungsten) miners.

Whereas in some provinces of eastern DRC, traceability programs have been implemented in the 3T mining sector in a more or less structured way (e.g. by the International Tin Association), traceability initiatives for gold, such as the projects of Partnership Africa Canada (now IMPACT), Capacity Building for Responsible Minerals Trade (CBRMT) and Federal Institute for Geosciences and Natural Resources (BGR), remain largely exploratory and localized. Whilst the OECD Guidance expects companies to identify incidents affecting their supply chains, and take mitigation measures where necessary, incident reporting for gold sites and supply chains is still at an embryonic stage.

Introducing a new mobile based incident reporting system: Kufatilia

In collaboration with the Canadian social tech company Ulula, IPIS developed an SMS-based incident reporting mechanism that is accessible to community members, and enables witnesses or victims to anonymously report incidents in artisanal mining zones, by mobile phone. The system is called ‘Kufatilia’ which means ‘to track’ in Swahili. Reported incidents are automatically uploaded on a web-based stakeholder platform, where they are monitored and managed by local civil society organizations (CSO). These local CSOs, engaged in incident follow-up, bring the issue to the attention of relevant stakeholders, such as local authorities, police, mining state services, mining cooperatives, army or/and local civil society, in order to work together towards a potential solution. A public map on a webpage (“ASM Incident Tracker”) visualises reported and monitored incidents in real time.

The mobile-based incident reporting system was piloted in the mining sector of northwest Tanzania. As gold miners in eastern DRC are most vulnerable to violence and predation, and because a structured incident reporting system for Congo’s gold sector was not available, IPIS opted for a larger-scale deployment of the mobile-based system in artisanal and small-scale gold mining areas in the eastern DRC provinces of South Kivu, North Kivu and Ituri, in the context of a project funded by European Partnership for Responsible Minerals (EPRM).

Different types of incidents reported

Over a period of 18 months (November 2018 – April 2020) almost 850 incidents were reported on the platform. Incidents are categorized into seven types: mining accidents, violence, child labour, corruption/fraud, road block, environmental issue, other. The three most frequently reported types of incidents were ‘mining accidents’, ‘violence’ and ‘child labour’.

Mine accidents are mainly caused by landslides and mine pit collapses, killing and/or injuring miners in most of the reported cases. Artisanal miners work often in unsecured mine pits and shafts, a recurrent problem mainly caused by a lack of appropriate technical skills and inadequate support from mining state services. The incident reporting system provides an opportunity for CSOs to discuss unsafe working conditions with competent authorities, on a regular base.

Interference in mining areas by non-state armed groups, was reported in the administrative territories of Shabunda and Fizi (in South Kivu), Masisi (North Kivu), and Mambasa (Ituri). Raia Mutomboki, Mai-Mai militia, or other unidentified armed groups, attacked and pillaged mines and neighbouring villages, often using extreme violence against miners and villagers (torture, sexual abuse and forced labour). CSOs asked for the intervention of the Congolese army, to evict these non-state groups from the mining sites, in order to secure the affected zones.

Although the Congolese legislation forbids worst forms of child labour, in reality, child labour is frequently observed in artisanal gold mining areas across eastern DRC. IPIS data, collected in the period 2016-2018, shows the existence of child labour in 16 percent of mining sites (N = 238), most of them in the gold sector. Poverty is the main socio-economic factor underlying this phenomenon. Child labour is part of an economic survival strategy for many poor households, in particular in remote rural areas where mining is considered the only way of earning a living. The OECD Due Diligence Guidance demands that the problem of child labour should be identified and reported, and that measures should be taken to mitigate this risk. The mobile phone-based incident reporting system could be an appropriate instrument to support the achievement of the recommendations of the OECD. CSOs can play a crucial role in bringing child labour issues to the attention of relevant stakeholders every time they are reported, in order to get the problem permanently on the political agenda.

Illegal taxation of mining operations and production is a widespread problem in the artisanal mining sector in eastern Congo. It is not only linked to interference of non-state armed groups or elements of the Congolese army; some agents of mining state services are also guilty of irregular tax practices (such as double taxation, over-taxation, or taxation by state services that are not supposed to levy taxes on mining activities). Illegal taxes are collected in the mine or at roadblocks near the entrance of mines (where transport of minerals is taxed). About 47 cases of illegal taxation either by state agents or elements of the army, in the mine as well as at roadblocks, were reported through the mobile-based incident reporting system. Effective interventions of CSOs resulted in the removal of several roadblocks, to the satisfaction of local communities.

One of the most intractable problems in artisanal mining is the use of mercury for gold extraction. Mercury treatment is a major source of soil and water pollution, posing serious health risks to miners and community members, living in the vicinity of gold mines. Many miners, manipulating mercury often without any protective equipment, are ignorant about the health and environmental risks of this chemical. Though the Congolese Règlement Minier forbids the use of mercury in artisanal gold mining, it is widespread in artisanal gold production because it is cheap, fast and effective. Eighteen mercury incidents were reported in the provinces of Ituri and South Kivu. CSOs try to raise awareness of the risks of the use of mercury, sensitizing miners, local authorities and local representatives of mining state services. Environmental issues are complex and not resolvable on a short notice. Flagging environmental issues on a regular base using the incident reporting system, should be considered as a modest but indispensable step along the long way towards a more sustainable solution. The DRC never signed the Convention of Minamata on Mercury, a global treaty to protect human health and the environment from the adverse effects of mercury. However, in January 2020, a workshop was organised in Kinshasa by the Congolese Environment Agency, in collaboration with the United Nations Institute for Training and Research, in order to prepare the ratification of the Minamata Convention. Incident reporting and permanent follow-up by CSOs, can help emphasizing the urgency of the matter.

Considering the fact that well-established and long-lasting traceability mechanisms are currently not available for artisanal and small-scale gold mining in the DRC, a widely deployed mobile phone-based incident reporting and follow-up system that is accessible to the entire community, can contribute positively to the process of making gold supply chains as clean as possible.

Erik Gobbers

FURTHER READING

Glencore Ignored Injuries After Spill at Chad Oilfield | 16 March 2020 | RAID

Glencore ignored reports of serious injuries to local residents in Chad living near its Badila oilfield following a September 2018 wastewater spill and oil pipe leak, a new report published today reveals. The Badila oilfield is operated by PetroChad Mangara Ltd, a 100%-owned subsidiary of Glencore Plc, one of the largest natural resource companies in the world.

A look at the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation | 10 March 2020 | SCCE | JD Supra

On April 3, 2017, the European Commission adopted a new regulation on mineral imports from conflict-affected areas, the EU Conflict Minerals Regulation.[1] The regulation will go into effect in January 2021. It is very similar to the conflict minerals regulation found within Section 1502 of the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act,[2] but certain important aspects are different.

Illicit financial flows in Africa. Drivers, destinations, and policy options (pdf) | March 2020 | Brookings

Since 1980, an estimated $1.3 trillion has left sub-Saharan Africa in the form of illicit financial flows (per Global Financial Integrity methodology), posing a central challenge to development financing. In this paper, we provide an up-to-date examination of illicit financial flows from Africa from 1980 to 2018, assess the drivers and destinations of illicit outflows, and examine policy options to reduce them.

Tanzanian Victims Commence Legal Action in UK against Barrick | 10 February 2020 | Raid

A group of seven Tanzanian human rights victims launched a legal claim at the British High Court against subsidiaries of Canada-based Barrick Gold, one of the world’s largest gold mining companies, alleging serious abuses by security forces, including local police, employed at Barrick’s North Mara gold mine.

Illicit Financial Flows in the Mining sector in Africa: risks and opportunities | 4 February 2020 | Africa Europe Faith and Justice Network

The European Commission recognises that mining and extractive companies in Africa are responsible for 65% of tax fraud, i.e. the money that states in Africa fail to collect due to the Illicit Financial Flows (IFF).

How to stifle corruption in the mining sector | 4 February 2020 | FTI Consulting | Daily Maverick

The mining industry remains vulnerable to corruption, particularly in Africa where a lack of legal frameworks and government capacity to enforce regulations governing the sector exacerbates the opportunity for rent-seeking by corrupt individuals. But it can be controlled.

South Africa: Mining gathering must confront human rights violations | 3 February 2020 | Amnesty International

Mining companies and their stakeholders, including investors, governments and politicians, must confront the human rights abuses that are rife in the industry, Amnesty International said today, as the world’s biggest mining investment conference begins in Cape Town.

Rigged: where has Republic of Congo’s oil money gone? | 27 January 2020 | Global Witness

Republic of Congo, Sub-Saharan Africa’s third largest oil producer, is facing bankruptcy. In July 2019, it received its fourth multi-million dollar bailout from the IMF. At the heart of its ailing oil-dependent economy is SNPC, its national oil company, a notorious black box that has been plagued by corruption scandals since its incorporation in 1998.

Glencore statement on child labour allegations | 17 December 2019 | Glencore

Glencore takes note of the lawsuit filed in a US court by IRAdvocates on 15 December 2019 regarding child labour in the artisanal mining of cobalt in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). We are not a defendant to this lawsuit.

In Kimberley, the world’s diamond capital, illicit mining fight flounders | 11 November 2019 | Reuters

The first South African project to bring illegal miners into the formal fold has been plagued by violence in diamond capital Kimberley, dealing a major blow to national efforts to stem a booming illicit trade.

Child Labour in Madagascar’s mica Sector: Impact of the mica supply chain on children’s rights from the Malagasy mines to the international product line (pdf) | 3 November 2019 | SOMO | Terredeshommes

Countless products from paints to cosmetics and from cars to laptops contain mica, albeit mostly in relatively small volumes. The biggest buyers of mica are the electronics and automotive industries. Since the publication of reports by Terre des Hommes and the Centre for Research on Multinational Corporations (SOMO) in 2016 and 2018, awareness has grown about the harsh conditions and the suffering of children in the depths of illegal mica mines in India.

A review of mining taxes in Africa: Tax burden, the strength of democratic systems and levels of corruption | 31 October 2019 | South African Journal of Business Management

This article examines features of the tax systems of 19 African countries with material mining operations.

Unsafe Conditions and Death in Africa’s Legal and Illegal Mines | 21 October 2019 | InsideOver

At least 10 people were killed in an artisanal gold mine collapse in Burkina Faso last week. The collapse occurred in Sideradougou, Western Burkina Faso on the 14th, in a region that sees frequent “deadly” landslides.

Does Zimbabwe have forced labour in its diamond mines? | 20 October 2019 | BBC News

The US government banned imports of rough diamonds from Zimbabwe earlier this month over concerns that forced labour was being used in the African nation’s mines. Zimbabwe has dismissed the allegations.

Russia is the unlikely choice to reduce corruption in African diamond mines | 1 October 2019 | Independent

In an effort to stop rebel violence and take back control of the mines, the Central African Republic has brokered a deal with Russia, but lawmakers fear the partnership may do more harm than good.

The Mining Law Review – Edition 8: Democratic Republic of the Congo | October 2019 | The Law Reviews

Mining represents a critical sector for the development of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). According to the World Bank, the mining sector has dominated the Congolese economy since the early 1910s.

Millions lost in Uganda’s Extractive Industry through corruption | 23 September 2019 | EABW

Civil Society Organizations advocating for free – Corruption Uganda wants the Government to come up with strong measures that will curb corruption and human rights abuses in the extractive industry.

DR Congo: The Forgotten Victims of Dan Gertler’s Corruption | 16 September 2019 | RAID

Ten years ago, 700 workers at the Kingamyambo Musonoi Tailings (KMT) mine in Kolwezi, Democratic Republic of Congo, were ordered to stop their work. They downed their tools, stopping trucks in the middle of the road and leaving pipes half cut, and gathered at the gate. A company official addressed the confused crowd telling them the cobalt and copper mine was being forced to close. The Congolese government had unlawfully stripped First Quantum Minerals, a Canadian company which owned the mine, of its license. The workers no longer had jobs.

Why Corruption Killed Dreams of a Better South Africa | 4 September 2019 | The Walrus

Twenty-five years ago, citizens hoped a postapartheid state would be a fresh start. Today, political and business leaders stand accused of money laundering and bribery.

Trapped in Illicit Finance. How abusive tax and trade practices harm human rights (pdf) | 17 September 2019 | Christian Aid

The world today faces unprecedented challenges – economic, environmental, social, political – even as we seem to be much less equipped to deal with them. Across the world, citizens who want their governments to implement policies to reduce inequalities, address climate change and looming ecological disaster, provide better public services and amenities, ensure social protection, generate quality employment and so on, are always confronted with one question: where is the money?

Blood diamonds and land corruption in Sierra Leone | 2 August 2019 | Transparency International

A deep abyss punctures the southern suburbs of Koidu Town, one of the largest cities in Sierra Leone. The giant pit, vast processing plants and surrounding earthworks constitute the country’s richest diamond mine.

Child Labor Today: Not Gone, But Forgotten | 31 July 2019 | Missions Box

Gospel for Asia (GFA) issues an extensive Special Report on child labor: Millions of Children Trapped between Extreme Poverty and the Profits of Others. It is beyond despicable that an estimated 218 million children as young as 5 years old are employed, and that at least 152 million are in forced child labor, according to basic facts about child labor published by the Child labor Coalition.

Do companies outsource the dirty work of imposing security? | 24 July 2019 | RAID

In June and July soldiers in the Democratic Republic of Congo marched on two of the country’s main copper and cobalt mines – China Molybdenum’s Tenke Fungurume and Glencore’s Kamoto Copper Concession. Their objective was to remove large numbers of artisanal miners who had entered the mining concessions to protest against the government’s failure to provide regulated artisanal mining zones where the miners could work.

Send in the troops: Congo raises the stakes on illegal mining | 17 July 2019 | Reuters

A Congolese army officer arrived in the village of Kafwaya in June and warned residents not to trespass on a major Chinese copper and cobalt mine next door. As night fell about a week later, the soldiers moved in.

Ghana’s battle with illegal artisanal and small-scale mining | 15 July 2019 | LSE blog

Mining practices in Ghana continue to have tremendous harmful impacts on people’s livelihoods, while at the same time becoming, for many, the most viable means of economic survival. Recent attempts to deal with the issue have faced systemic challenges, says Marie-Noelle Nwokolo, requiring the collaboration of regulators and political officials to harness the sector’s development potential.

Where are Africa’s billions? | 11 July 2019 | Transparency International

Africa is the world’s second fastest-growing region, and yet 100 million more Africans live in extreme poverty today compared to the 1990s. Sub-Saharan Africa, in particular, is home to the largest share of people living in extreme poverty. Corruption continues to harm the efforts to bring people out of poverty.

‘State capture’: the corruption investigation that has shaken South Africa | 11 July 2019 | The Guardian

Gavin Watson was a hero of the struggle against apartheid. But this once-powerful businessman is now caught up in a sweeping inquiry that goes to the heart of how a nation is run.

Dealing with corruption risk | 24 June 2019 | Mining Magazine

The last decade has seen a sharp increase in global legislative actions, with new laws and regulations being enacted in relation to bribery, corruption and money laundering in various parts of the world, including the UK, China, Russia, India, Brazil and France.

Reporters investigated abuse and corruption at a Barrick gold mine in Tanzania. They faced threats and censorship | 18 June 2019 | The Star

In Tanzania, reporters trying to investigate violence, environmental damage and other wrongdoing connected to a gold mine in the north of the country are trapped between the silence of a mining giant and the lies of a repressive government. At least a dozen reporters — local and international — who wrote about the mine have been censored or threatened. Forbidden Stories, an international consortium of 40 journalists publishing in 30 media organizations around the world, unveiled the shameful history of gold leaving the North Mara gold mine to end up in coveted high tech phones and computers. This is part of the “Green Blood” series, a project pursuing stories of journalists who have been threatened, jailed or killed while investigating environmental issues.

Zambia in battle over copper royalties | 22 May 2019 | RFI

Zambia placed one of the country’s major copper mining companies Vedanta in liqudation on Tuesday [May 21st, 2019] in the wake of their continued refusal to pay a new value-added tax, in breach of the country’s mines and minerals Act. It has also threatened to do the same with Glencore.

African Gold Mines Lose Tens of Billions Yearly to Smuggling | 26 April 2019 | Telesur

Illegal mining enterprises have been smuggling gold out of the continent of Africa – from across several dozen countries – to the tune of tens of billions of dollars in unpaid taxes, annually.

Gold worth billions smuggled out of Africa | 24 April 2019 | Reuters

Billions of dollars’ worth of gold is being smuggled out of Africa every year through the United Arab Emirates in the Middle East – a gateway to markets in Europe, the United States and beyond – a Reuters analysis has found.

Settlement brings fresh hope for Guinea iron ore mining | 10 April 2019 | ICLG

The peace deal between the government and mining entrepreneur Beny Steinmetz brought an end to legal proceedings and corruption charges, and hope of a new and lucrative future for iron ore mining in Guinea.

Communities, mining corporations and corruption in South Africa | 7 February 2019 | The Conversation

During the apartheid era in South Africa, the mining industry operated without restraint and had undue influence over government decision-making. This created an environment where companies maximised profits at the expense of people and the environment.

UK Supreme Court Hears Landmark Case on Corporate Rights Violations | 14 January 2019 | RAID

On 15 and 16 January 2019, the UK Supreme Court will hear a case of crucial importance for victims of corporate human rights violations. The case, Vedanta Resources Plc and Another v Lungowe and others, is brought by leading human rights law firm Leigh Day on behalf of over 1,800 Zambian citizens who say Vedanta Resources, a UK company, and its Zambian subsidiary, Konkola Copper Mines Plc (“KCM”), polluted local water sources causing damage to their land and livelihoods.

Preventing corruption in community mineral beneficiation schemes (pdf) | February 2017 | Anti- Corruption Resource Centre | CMI

This paper analyses patterns of corruption and corruption risks related to community mineral beneficiation schemes (CMBSs) that distribute benefits funded by mineral revenues to communities. It analyses insights from existing scholarship on CMBSs, evidence from seven cases of corruption, and lessons from guidance documents on reducing corruption in the mining value chain. The aim of the paper is to stimulate debate and further research about the suitability of anti-corruption strategies for CMBSs.

Forced labour in Africa: between poverty and tradition | 13 May 2005 | OECD

The ILO estimate of the number of victims of forced labour in sub-Saharan Africa is 660,000. In this region, the figure reflects the stubborn survival of traditional forms of servitude, but also relates to extreme poverty, a high incidence of child labour, and a context of severe political violence. Where armed conflicts and ethnic tensions have flared, nations have been confronted with the forced recruitment of child soldiers, abductions, and enslavement of whole segments of their population. ILO online draws a picture of forced labour in Africa.

IN THE NEWS

BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS

Gold mining in Ghana: Going underground with a child miner (video) | 20 April 2020 | BBC

Alongside the vast gold fields of Ghana are thousands of illegal mines or “galamsey” where unskilled miners dream of hitting the big time, but it’s dangerous work.

Private military contractors appear to be active in Mozambique | 15 April 2020 | DefenceWeb

Reports that a privately operated helicopter was destroyed in Mozambique during contact with Islamist insurgents last week have once again shone the spotlight on private military activity in the country aimed at combating the ongoing insurgency there.

NATURAL RESOURCES

Total to buy Tullow out of Uganda for $575mn | 23 April 2020 | ArgusMedia

Total has agreed to acquire London-listed Tullow Oil’s entire Uganda operations for $575mn, much less than it was previously prepared to pay to buy part of the business.

Congo artisanal cobalt programme expands with industry backing | 21 April 2020 | Reuters

A programme to monitor and improve artisanal cobalt mines in Democratic Republic of Congo will double the number of mining sites it covers this year through a partnership between RCS Global and the Responsible Minerals Initiative.

Study underpins Manono lithium project in DRC | 21 April 2020 | ArgusMedia

Perth-based lithium developer AVZ Minerals has completed a definitive feasibility study showing that its Manono project in the Democratic Republic of Congo can become one of the world’s major sources of hard rock lithium.

EU cobalt price direction hangs in the balance | 20 April 2020 | ArgusMedia

European cobalt metal prices are caught in the balance between severe supply and demand shocks globally, with market participants now weighing up how best to position themselves as Europe’s gradual easing of lockdown measures coincides with escalating supply concerns in Africa.

Congo mine closures would cause economic and social crisis, minister says | 18 April 2020 | Reuters

Democratic Republic of Congo’s mining minister warned mine shutdowns due to the COVID-19 pandemic would trigger a “catastrophic” economic and social crisis in the country, as he reported a 15% slump in cobalt exports in the first quarter.

Glencore mine boss seized at Zambian airport spells trouble | 18 April 2020 | Bloomberg | Fin24

Nathan Bullock was about to fly home to his family in Australia when authorities blocked his exit at Zambia’s Lusaka airport, bundled him into a police car, and drove him six hours through the night back to the mine he manages. Police later camped outside his home.

Diamond Crash. Just Don’t Ask How Bad It Is | 15 April 2020 | Forbes

How low can diamond prices go? That’s a question which no-one can answer, but it’s also a question which the diamond industry wishes no-one would ask, judging by an unsightly spat which has engulfed the normally well-mannered jewelry trade.

Congo governor condemns rising insecurity at mines in gold province | 11 April 2020 | Reuters

Illegal mining and trading are fuelling worsening violence on mine sites, the governor of Democratic Republic of Congo’s gold-rich Ituri province said, after armed robbers killed four people, including three Chinese nationals, at a gold mine.

ALROSA implements OECD Due Diligence Guidance for Responsible Supply Chains | 8 April 2020 | Alrosa

ALROSA implements OECD due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict-affected and high-risk areas. The company places special emphasis on ensuring compliance with the responsible business principles and disclosure of information on rough and polished diamonds produced by the company at all stages of its supply chain from exploration and mining to sorting, cutting, polishing and trading.

DRC’s mountain gorillas enter lockdown over fears coronavirus could wipe out population | 7 April 2020 | The National

Park authorities last month announced that all visits to Virunga would be suspended until June, after advice from scientific experts that the endangered mountain gorillas would likely be susceptible to coronavirus. The park closed on the same afternoon The National visited, March 24.

Government Rejects Mopani Copper Mines’ Plans To Place The Mine Under Care And Maintenance | 7 April 2020 | Zambia Reports

Mines Minister Richard Musukwa said at a briefing this morning that Mopani’s majority shareholder, Glencore, had informed him of the decision via a video conference that the decision was caused by falling copper prices and disruptions in international mobility.

South Sudan’s Graft-ridden Gold Mining Threatens the Peace | 6 April 2020 | OCCRP

Family members of top government officials are involved in South Sudan’s corrupt gold mining sector which is booming and threatening the fragile peace that ended the five-year-long civil war, warned a new report by The Sentry.

Kimberley Process Plans to Digitize Its Certificates | 5 April 2020 | Diamonds.net

The Kimberley Process (KP) is trialing the use of digital certificates for rough-diamond shipments, claiming the method will increase efficiency and reduce fraud.

As pangolin trade heats up, Nigeria urged to do more to crack down | 2 April 2020 | Mongabay

Law enforcement officials around the world have seized more than 200 tonnes of pangolin scales since 2016, more than half of it linked to Nigeria, a new report has found.

More mines declaring force majeure | 2 April 2020 | MoneyWeb

Anglo American Platinum (Amplats) was the first of local miners to declare force majeure, three weeks ago, after an explosion at a converter plant forced its hand. A force majeure is where a company can’t fulfil its contracts, as a result of unforeseen circumstances.

Untapped and Unprepared: Dirty Deals Threaten South Sudan’s Mining Sector | April 2020 | The Sentry

South Sudan’s mining sector has seen rapid development in recent years, and preliminary reports suggest that the industry could become an engine for major economic growth. However, ineffective accountability mechanisms, an opaque corporate landscape, and inadequate due diligence have exposed the sector to abuse by bad actors within South Sudan’s ruling clique.

Inside the fight to save the Niger Delta red colobus | 31 March 2020 | Mongabay

It’s sunset in the small Niger Delta village of Apoi. The town crier’s bell rings out over tilted electricity poles and small bungalows. “The epiene people are here again to meet with you and talk about our plans for the animal!” he calls.

ARMS TRADE

Private Military and Security Companies: Views from the UK and Russia on Regulation and Accountability | 22 April 2020 | RUSI

Public understandings of private military and security companies (PMSCs) have been shaped by headlines like those following the 2006 Nisour Square massacre, where Blackwater personnel contracted by the US government killed 17 Iraqis and injured 20. More recently, in 2018, Western media reports have suggested that contracted fighters of Russian origin engaged in combat with US troops at a Syrian Democratic Forces base. The so-called Battle of Khasham resulted in the deaths of a disputed number of Russian citizens. While these cases may represent a small segment of the private military and security sector, that does not diminish their importance – these types of actions lead to the deaths of both combatants and civilians, exacerbate conflicts and have impact relations between countries.

UN sanctions Central African Republic rebel group leader Miskine | 21 April 2020 | DefensePost

The United Nations Security Council has imposed sanctions on Central African Republic rebel leader Abdoulaye Miskine, who last year signed a peace agreement between the government and armed groups.

L’armée rwandaise en RDC «constitue une violation de l’embargo sur les armes» (GEC) | 15 April 2020 | RFI

Y a-t-il des militaires rwandais qui opèrent sur le sol congolais ? La société civile et des députés du Nord-Kivu dénoncent aujourd’hui ce qu’ils qualifient d’envahissement. Ils en appellent aux chefs d’État de la région et demandent à ce que le mécanisme de vérification mis en place par la Conférence internationale sur la région des Grands Lacs (CIRGL) vienne constater cette présence. Le Groupe d’études sur le Congo (GEC) et Human Rights Watch ont régulièrement signalé à travers leur plateforme de surveillance, Kivu Security Tracker, ces allégations. Jason Stearns est le directeur du GEC, centre de recherche de l’université de New York. Il répond aux questions de Sonia Rolley.

Hensoldt South Africa champions greater support for the local aerospace and defence industry | 15 April 2020 | DefenceWeb

Consolidation and support are needed for the South African aerospace and defence industry to survive, with Hensoldt South Africa aiming to take a leading role in ensuring the sustainability of this sector.

Landmines still a global threat, despite fewer deaths | 4 April 2020 | DW

Land mines and cluster bombs have turned war zones into deathtrap for decades. Thousands of civilians are accidentally killed each year, but international efforts have turned the tide against these deadly time bombs.

Ethiopia, Kenya raise military spend as East Africa arms budget hits $104 million | 4 April 2020 | The East African

Eastern African countries spent $104 million on arms last year as Ethiopia and Kenya raced to modernise their defense systems, even as Rwanda, Tanzania and Uganda reduced their military spending in the same period.

CONFLICT

Africa: Triple Threat – Conflict, Gender-Based Violence and COVID-19 | 26 April 2020 | Nontobeko Mlambo | AllAfrica

The combined effect is catastrophic in countries affected by armed conflict and by humanitarian emergencies, such as the locust invasion across eastern Africa. Those fleeing from their homes to crowded camps, where physical distancing is impossible, face increased risks of illness from COVID-19.

RCA : les groupes armés se retirent collectivement du gouvernement de Firmin NGRÉBADA | 25 April 2020 | Corbeau News Centrafrique

RCA :les groupes armés, signataires de l’APPR-RCA, demandent avec insistance au gouvernement de sortir de son surdité, de son tâtonnement, et de son entêtement (Communiqué de Presse) | 25 April 2020 | Corbeau News Centrafrique

Dans un communiqué publié ce vendredi 24 avril, les groupes armés, signataires de l’accord politique pour la paix et la réconciliation en République centrafricaine (APPR-RCA), ont annoncé, dans un ton peu cordial, la suspension de leur participation au gouvernement « d’union nationale » dirigée par Firmin NGRÉBADA. Un véritable coup fatal pour la paix en République centrafricaine.

Eastern Congo militia ambush kills 16, including 12 park rangers | 24 April 2020 | Reuters

UNESCO condemns the killing of 17 people in Virunga National Park, Democratic Republic of the Congo | 25 April 2020 | UNESCO

Suspected Hutu militiamen killed 16 people, including 12 rangers, on Friday in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Virunga National Park, a government official said, in the deadliest such attack in Virunga’s recent history.

Cameroon: Massacre Findings Made Public. Despite Flaws, Conclusions that Soldiers Bear Responsibility Important Step | 24 April 2020 | HRW

Cameroon: Make Massacre Investigation Public | 16 April 2020 | HRW

Cameroon’s release on April 22, 2020 of findings about a massacre in Ngarbuh, North-West Cameroon, is an important first step in establishing the truth around the killings of civilians by government forces, Human Rights Watch said today.

DR Congo police arrest leader of separatist cult after deadly clashes | 24 April 2020 | Reuters

Police in the Democratic Republic of Congo on Friday arrested Ne Muanda Nsemi, the self-styled prophet and leader of a separatist religious sect, following heavy gunfire in the capital Kinshasa.

Cameroon: The restive region taking teetering steps to statehood | 23 April 2020 | The New European

Ambazonia would be the first new country in a decade, and a potentially rich one. But, as Yoletta Nyange reports, the battle for independence from Cameroon is far from over.

Militaires rwandais en RDC: quelles preuves? (2/2) | 23 April 2020 | RFI

Militaires rwandais en RDC [1/2]: Kigali mène-t-elle une guerre secrète? | 23 April 2020 | RFI

Depuis plus d’un an, l’armée rwandaise est soupçonnée de mener des opérations en RDC contre des groupes politico-militaires rwandais basés sur le sol congolais, avec l’accord du gouvernement de Kinshasa. Des partis d’opposition et des organisations de la société civile rwandais, comme congolais, dénoncent l’impact de ces incursions à répétition sur les populations civiles des deux pays, mais se heurtent au démenti de Kinshasa et Kigali et au silence de la communauté internationale.

Burkina Faso : Nouveaux massacres commis par des groupes armés islamistes | 23 April 2020 | HRW

Au Burkina Faso, des groupes armés islamistes présumés ont tué au moins 90 civils lors de trois attaques perpétrées fin janvier 2020 contre des villages, provoquant la fuite de milliers de personnes, a déclaré aujourd’hui Human Rights Watch. Ces attaques, commises entre le 17 et le 25 janvier, ont accéléré la création par le gouvernement d’une nouvelle milice d’autodéfense, faisant craindre de nouveaux abus.

Libya’s people-smuggling militias return just in time for migrant season | 22 April 2020 | Middle East Eye

Police, military and security officials from Libya’s western towns of Sabratha and Sorman have gone into hiding, after forces loyal to Tripoli’s UN-backed Government of National Accord (GNA) took control of the area from the country’s eastern-based government’s Libyan National Army (LNA). Among the GNA forces that led the Sabratha operation were several UN-blacklisted people smugglers and associated militias who, locals claim, have reimposed militia rule and are planning to restart their former illegal trade of sending boatloads of migrants towards Europe.

Guerre au Sahel : Les nouvelles orientations de l’impérialisme français en Afrique | 20 April 2020 | Maliweb

L’annonce, par simple communiqué, daté du 2 février 2020 de l’envoi de 600 militaires français supplémentaires (portant ainsi les forces de l’opération «Barkhane» à 5.100 soldats) au Sahel a soulevé peu de débats contradictoires et encore moins d’oppositions. Aucune initiative militante n’a accompagné cette annonce. Pourtant la question de la clarification des buts de guerre de la France dans la région est posée explicitement par la France Insoumise, depuis 2013 ou par le PCF depuis la même période.

How We Talk About Girl Soldiers: Lessons From Eastern Congo | 14 April 2020 | The Organization for World Peace

Last year I was fortunate to be able to conduct research on the topic of child soldiery in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, supported by the University of Oxford. I met with former child soldiers and conducted interviews with leading NGOs in Goma, North Kivu province. My aim was to discern the truth behind core discourses surrounding the region and the impact that these discourses are having on initiatives to successfully reintegrate children from armed groups. My special focus was on girls in armed groups, examining the particular challenges that face this relatively understudied demographic.

DRC’s male and female rape survivors share their stories | 14 April 2020 | Al Jazeera

In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, rape is widely used as a weapon of war against women, men and children. Alain (whose name has been changed to protect his identity) is from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). But last autumn, he was sitting in the office of the Refugee Law Project in the Ugandan capital, Kampala, as he calmly recounted his story.

African police accused of excessive force during lockdowns | 14 April 2020 | DefenceWeb

Nigerian security forces kill 18 for violating Covid-19 lockdown: human rights body | 18 April 2020 | AFP | Dawn

Police violence in the time of pandemic | 10 April 2020 | Al Jazeera

Days after Congo announced emergency restrictions to curb the new coronavirus, a police video circulating online showed an officer beating a taxi driver violating a one passenger limit.

Where Are We With The Peace Deal In South Sudan? | 14 April 2020 | The Organization for World Peace

In the last week, fault lines have reappeared within the political negotiations in Juba as the completion of South Sudan’s peace deal stalls. One major hurdle is the allocation of state governments across the coalition parties. As a consequence, the “Transitional Government of National Unity” (TGONU) is still not yet fully formed. The 2018 peace agreement decrees control at state and county level as 55% for the incumbent TGONU, 27% for “Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-in-Opposition” (SPLM-IO), 10% for “South Sudan Opposition Alliance” (SSOA), and 8% for “Other Political Parties” (OPP), which has created unwanted ambiguity.

SPLA-IO, NAS accuse each other of attacks in Mugwo | 14 April 2020 | Radio Tamazuj

The opposition National Salvation Front (NAS) and South Sudan armed opposition forces (SPLA-IO) on Friday accused each other of carrying out attacks in Central Equatoria State. Speaking to Radio Tamazuj, the SPLA-IO deputy spokesperson, Col. Lam Paul Gabriel claimed NAS forces attacked their base in Mugwo payam of Yei River County last Thursday.

Extremists in northern Mozambique declare goal of caliphate | 13 April 2020 | MENAFN

A shadowy Islamist group that has terrorised northern Mozambique for more than two years has suddenly become more brazen, unmasking its fighters and openly declaring its goal of turning the gas-rich region into a caliphate.

Ituri : 5 personnes tuées dans une embuscade des assaillants de CODECO | 11 April 2020 | Radio Okapi

Cinq personnes composées essentiellement des usagers de route ont été tuées dans une embuscade tendue vendredi 10 avril par des hommes armés de la milice CODECO, aux villages de Nyapala, Pitso et Karo en territoire de Djugu sur le tronçon Bunia-Mahagi, dans la province de l’Ituri.

Africa: Armed conflicts and state repression fuel cocktail of human rights violations | 7 April 2020 | Amnesty International

Protesters across sub-Saharan Africa have braved bullets and beatings to defend their rights in the face of continuing conflict and state repression, Amnesty International said today as it published its annual review of human rights in the region.

Central African Republic: UN expert calls for restraint and responsibility to protect population | 7 April 2020 | OHCHR

The UN Independent Expert on the situation of human rights in CAR, Yao Agbetse, today called on the government, the opposition and armed groups in the Central African Republic, as well as national and international media, to exercise restraint and responsibility as the country progresses under the Khartoum Peace Agreement.

Banal Terrors: Pandemics and the Ordinary Business of War | 7 April 2020 | International Policy Digest

The twaddle of framing the confrontation of the coronavirus as a “war” has proven to be a cheapening, misguided exercise. France’s President Emmanuel Macron has deemed COVID-19 the “invisible, elusive enemy,” making it sound like an adept guerrilla specialising in sneak attacks. China’s Xi Jinping has gone for the language of the “people’s war,” suggesting that the virus has certain class-ridden notions. President Donald Trump has characterised himself as “a wartime president.”

26 years later, more than half of Genocide fugitives have found safe haven in Africa | 7 April 2020 | The New Times

Rwandans will today, Tuesday, April 7, commence activities to commemorate the more than a million lives lost in the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi, for the 26th time. Twenty-six years later, one of the biggest challenge Rwanda continues to grapple with is bringing to book key perpetrators.

DR Congo: Attack blamed on ADF kills 6 near Beni | 7 April 2020 | The Defense Post

Five men and a child were killed in an overnight attack blamed on the Allied Democratic Forces militia near the eastern DR Congo city of Beni, cut off because of the coronavirus pandemic, local sources said Tuesday, April 7.

Decades Later, The Perpetrators Of The Genocide In Rwanda Will Face Justice | 6 April 2020 | Forbes

April 7 marks the UN International Day of Reflection on the 1994 Genocide against the Tutsi in Rwanda. It was established to remember members of the Tutsi community, an African ethnic group, who were targeted at the end of the 20th century. In 1994, 800,000 Tutsis were killed in Rwanda in the space of just 100 days. These statistics send a strong message.

Military Intervention Alone Will Fail to Resolve the Sahel Crisis | 3 April 2020 | Norwegian Refugee Council & Action Against Hunger-France | InDepthNews

President Emmanuel Macron invited the five G5 West African leaders to the French city of Pau in January 2020 to shore up support for international engagement in restive Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. All agreed that more European security support was needed to counter violent extremism in the Central Sahel.