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IPIS Briefing June 2020 - Impact of Covid-19 on artisanal miners in 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: Impact of Covid-19 on artisanal miners in DR Congo 

In the news: Clean gold – How Switzerland could set new supply chain standards; Eritrean activists sue EU for funding roads built with ‘forced labour’; Congo Prosecutor Accuses President’s Aide of $52 Million Theft.

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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: IMPACT OF COVID-19 ON ARTISANAL MINERS IN DR CONGO

As remotely as Congolese artisanal miners live, the Coronavirus has demonstrated how fully they are interlinked with the rest of the world. When DRC and neighbouring countries closed their borders, artisanal miners feared more the economic collapse than the virus. In order to better understand the impact of both the pandemic and its economic consequences, IPIS consulted its network to assess the impact so far on the artisanal mining sector — its production, supply chain and trad and mining communities, at the economic and security level.

To answer these questions, IPIS surveyors contacted by phone, on 4 bi-weekly occasions between May and June 2020, representatives (pit owner, cooperative chief, trader, leader of a mining team) of 96 3TG mining sites (12 in Ituri, 36 in Maniema, 12 in North Kivu and 36 in South Kivu) and 13 processing houses (5 in Bunia, 3 in Kindu, 3 in Goma and 2 in Bukavu). These mining sites were selected from the IPIS database as they had been visited by IPIS relatively recently — between June 2018 and December 2019.

The economic collapse began when the borders with neighbouring countries closed. All processing houses testified great difficulty to export as the entire transport logistic was disturbed and international borders were shut. These circumstances led to various difficulties for the processing houses, who complained that all they could do was to stock until export was feasible again; fear that the stock of coltan would attract thieves; and difficulty to provide the production promised to their clients. Two processing houses estimated their production loss at 75%.

Due to export difficulties, processing houses were not able to sell, hence to get income, therefore many processing houses ceased to pre-finance négotiants (1). Consequently, the négotiants ran low on cash and many of them stopped visiting mining sites. In the beginning of May 2020, in Ituri, respondents on all twelve researched mining sites testified that not a single gold négotiant had visited them. Beginning of June, in North Kivu, only one out ten artisanal miner representatives confirmed the visit of a négotiant.

Ultimately, as miners could not sell their production, many simply abandoned the artisanal mining sector, returning to their place of origin, or moved to agricultural activities in the area. Other miners, working in the extraction of cassiterite and wolframite, moved to gold or coltan mining sites, for which the selling price is higher. One representative of a site producing both gold and cassiterite explained the logic: “We stopped extracting cassiterite and focused on gold because we make more money, and it is easier to sell gold, even at around 30 dollars the gram than cassiterite at 3 dollars the kilo.” The ease of smuggling and/or stocking gold in comparison to cassiterite are other reasons for their switch. Interestingly, while many miners deserted the site, beginning of May, 47% of mining sites reported people who came for the first time to work on their site. It is likely that these newcomers are Congolese who lost their job due to the pandemic and saw artisanal mining as a new livelihood. Teachers and, ironically, newly unemployed staff of industrial mining companies were observed in artisanal mining sites. Besides the newcomers, child labour has dramatically raised. Children working in mines during the holiday periods was already a known phenomenon, but in this case, the reemergence of children at mining sites is caused by school closure, one of the government measures taken against the Coronavirus.

When the borders shut down, the mineral trade came to a halt, which in turn interrupted the influx of cash in the local economy. According to the local population, in most mining sites the price of essential goods has greatly increased. In Maniema, the price of a cup of manioc powder increased by 100% and palm oil by 50% in comparison with the pre-Covid period. In South Kivu mining sites, the word “famine” was used to qualify the situation. One miner on a mining site in Maniema complained that “you can see food at the market, but we lack money to buy it, yet we are hungry”. In other zones, food and imported manufactured goods from Bukavu were no longer reaching villages due to the interruption of movement between the provincial capital and small towns, thus price rises.

While the price for essential goods kept sky-rocketing, the mineral price kept plummeting. The price drop is due to multiple factors. Firstly, there is the lack of cash which impeded traders to buy minerals, as all transactions are in cash. Secondly, the devaluation of the franc congolais (fc) to the US dollar ($), combined with a drop of world market price of the 3T raw minerals meant a value loss. One artisanal miner of South Kivu explained well his situation. In January 2020, before the Coronavirus, he was making $5 for every kilo of cassiterite, the mineral being sold at 8000 fc, at a rate of $1 for 1600 fc. In May, the same cassiterite was sold for 5000 fc (decrease of the world market price), at a rate of $1 for 1900 fc (devaluation of the franc congolais), hence leaving the miner with $2,63. In 4 months, the value of his production had depreciated by 47%.

On the other hand, gold miners were very much aware that the gold price on the world market was skyrocketing. However, being penniless and in a serious disadvantaged bargaining position with buyers, who rightly argued that they also lacked cash and export prospect, gold miners were forced to sell off their production. During the outbreak of the Coronavirus, gold miners sold their production for 40 to 50% less than the price of the pre-Coronavirus period. In May, the selling price of gold at mining sites and trading houses began to rise again but has not reached the value of the pre-Coronavirus period yet. One artisanal miner from South Kivu explained that before the Coronavirus, he was selling his gold for 120 000 fc. Around February, he had to accept 50 000 fc. At the time of the call, in May, he reported to have sold his gold at 70 000 fc. In Ituri, some miners admitted to have accepted a pittance for their gold, as low as 30 to 35 000 fc for a gram of gold. In May, these Ituri miners reported a minor increase in the selling price, between 50 and 56 000 fc.

As cash money became scarce, people started to barter, by which miners offered minerals in exchange for essential goods. A miner could trade 1kg of cassiterite for 1kg of rice (both worth around 3000 fc), while the shopkeeper hoped to sell the cassiterite at a better price later on. This practice renders the tracing of the minerals more difficult as it spreads the production in multiple hands, many of whom have no idea how to sell minerals legally. Furthermore, around 10% of mining sites reported to have sold minerals to new traders. These new traders are sometimes experienced traders who visited new sites, but they are also people investing their capital in minerals. One witness in Kaziba (South Kivu) reported that due to the gold price plummeting, “people sell their cows, lands, plantation and plenches to buy gold at the lowest price, hoping to resell it at a higher rate when the coronavirus crisis will have passed”.

Security-wise, the first semester of 2020 has been particularly violent in Eastern Congo. A growth in recruitment amongst young people who suffered from the economic collapse is expected. Media also reported increased activity of armed groups in Eastern Congo. But it is difficult to correlate this increase in violence with the apparition of the Coronavirus. In the period before the Coronavirus, there was an armed presence (including FARDC and Police des Mines) at 50% of the mining sites. In May and June 2020, it seems that it is still the national army that controls most of the sites, and we did not notice attempts by non-state armed groups to control mining sites, and more generally we did not see a significant rise of violence at mining sites. To a greater extent illegal taxation is the main interference reported. For example, in Ituri, FARDC are present on 4 of the 12 mining sites of our survey, and on all of them, they demanded ½ gram of gold per month from each pit owner as a contribution to the effort de guerre. In South Kivu, FARDC is present on nearly 10 of the 37 mining sites reviewed in June. On 5 of them, pit owners were requested to pay 1 gram of gold, also as a contribution to the war. On the same five mining sites, the Police des Mines fine miners between 5 000 to 25 000 fc for not wearing a mask.

IPIS is conducting similar surveys in Tanzania and the Central African Republic. Over the summer, IPIS will publish several reports on the consequences of the pandemic on the artisanal mining sector in Democratic Republic of Congo, Tanzania and Central African Republic.

Guillaume de Brier

(1) In normal circumstances, processing houses pre-finance négotiants who visit mining sites to collect minerals. They are paid by making a small margin in the transaction. Similarly, artisanal miners are pre-financed in the period before that the mining site produces minerals. Pre-financers can be important business men or processing houses.

FURTHER READING

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IN THE NEWS

BUSINESS & HUMAN RIGHTS

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In January 2018 the streets of Kinshasa, capital of the Democratic Republic of the Congo, were awash with the blood of violent disturbances. The United Nations reported six fatalities in a string of clashes between the security forces and young residents of the city. The protesters’ ire was aroused by the refusal of the then-president, Joseph Kabila, to hold an election, even though his term of office had expired almost two years earlier.

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Swiss to vote on companies’ global liability for rights abuses | 4 June 2020 | Reuters

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New Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking Certificate Launched for the Financial Sector | 3 June 2020 | Business Wire

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In a brief filed last week, the Trump administration reversed its position on corporate liability under the Alien Tort Statute (ATS), urging the Supreme Court to grant certiorari in Cargill, Inc. v. Doe I and to hold that domestic corporations are not subject to suit for human rights violations under the ATS. The brief further urged the Court to reject the possibility of aiding-and-abetting liability under the ATS or, in the alternative, to hold that aiding-and-abetting liability is not available when the principal offense occurs outside the United States.

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On 21 May 2020, TRIAL International filed a criminal complaint (“dénonciation pénale”) for complicity in pillage against Kolmar Group AG before the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) of Switzerland. According to a joint report published by TRIAL International and Public Eye on 2 March 2020, the Zug-based trading company had purchased smuggled gasoil from Libya. Having analysed the evidence gathered during the investigation, TRIAL International concludes that the Swiss trader may have been complicit in the war crime of pillage. It is now up to the Swiss prosecuting authorities to shed light on the Zugese trader’s actions.

Clean gold: How Switzerland could set new supply chain standards | 17 May 2020 | Swissinfo

Switzerland is the undisputed top dog of the global gold industry, refining a majority of the world’s gold, as well as being the leading exporter. But how seriously does the country take its responsibility to ensure sustainable mining and the protection of human rights?

Eritrean activists sue EU for funding roads built with ‘forced labour’ | 13 May 2020 | Reuters

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Congo Prosecutor Accuses President’s Aide of $52 Million Theft | 12 May 2020 | Bloomberg

A Democratic Republic of Congo prosecutor accused President Felix Tshisekedi’s chief of staff of embezzling more than $52 million in one of the nation’s highest-profile corruption trials.

Guilty verdict for Soro puts Ivory Coast on political alert – and the ICC back in play | 11 May 2020 | The Conversation

A political earthquake is rumbling through Ivory Coast. On April 28, an Ivorian court found Guillaume Soro, a hopeful in the October presidential election, guilty of embezzlement and money laundering. The 48-year-old former rebel commander-in-chief was sentenced to 20 years in jail.

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Torn apart and bled dry since the fall of Colonel Gaddafi, Libya is a paradise for smugglers. TRIAL International and Public Eye uncovered business transactions in 2014 and 2015 between the Swiss trader Kolmar Group AG and a network of Libyan gasoil smugglers whose leaders are facing trial in Sicily.

European Commission steps up fight against money laundering and terrorist financing – Q&A | 7 May 2020 | European Commission

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NATURAL RESOURCES

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Copper and cobalt are the Democratic Republic of Congo’s two biggest exports. Artisanal miners often dig for these riches on lands licensed to large companies, sometimes prompting violent state intervention. The government should instead foster better ways for citizens to share in the mineral wealth.

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If Leonardo DiCaprio is available, he would be perfect for a starring role in a sequel to his 2006 Oscar-nominated performance in Blood Diamond with a near-record price triggering multiple conflicts in another precious commodity, gold.

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UN Experts Show Gold Smuggling Networks From Congo to Dubai | 12 June 2020 | Bloomberg

Gold smuggling from eastern Democratic Republic of Congo is costing the impoverished country millions of dollars in tax revenue and funding conflict and criminal networks that stretch across Africa and beyond, according to a United Nations Group of Experts report.

Zambia tackles ‘deliberate’ undervaluation of mineral exports | 11 June 2020 | CGTN

Zambia on Wednesday said mines ministry officials will, starting next month, personally collect samples from mine sites around the country to prevent mining companies seeking to undervalue their production to pay less taxes.

Zambia tackles ‘deliberate’ undervaluation of mineral exports | 10 June 2020 | Reuters

Zambia on Wednesday said mines ministry officials will, starting next month, personally collect samples from mine sites around the country to prevent mining companies seeking to undervalue their production to pay less taxes.

A Correspondent Looks Back at 40 Years on the Continent | 10 June 2020 | Der Spiegel

In four decades as a correspondent in Africa, I have driven and flown some 2 million kilometers throughout the continent. A lot has changed since I first arrived, but much has stayed the same. My departure is bittersweet.

Is Ghana Serious About Its Natural Resource Exploitation For Its Development Agenda? | 6 June 2020 | Modern Ghana

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60% of Global Cobalt Supply at Risk as DRC Crackdown Intensifies | 3 June 2020 | GlobeNewswire

Bolt Metals Corp. an Indonesia-based company focused on developing battery mineral projects in the Asia‐Pacific region, noted the Financial Times reported that Huayou Cobalt (“Huayou”), “China’s top cobalt producer halts buying from Congo miners.” It’s widely reported that the Democratic Republic of Congo (the “DRC”) represents 60% of global cobalt production.

Trafigura investigated for alleged corruption, market manipulation | 31 May 2020 | The Guardian

Global commodities trader Trafigura is under investigation by US authorities for alleged corruption and market manipulation relating to oil trading, the Guardian has learned.

Congo suspends board and management of state diamond miner MIBA | 30 May 2020 | Reuters

The Democratic Republic of Congo has suspended the board of directors and management of state-controlled diamond mining company MIBA, after an audit revealed significant irregularities, the government said in a statement.

Mining billionaire gets help from ex-spies in bitter legal fight | 25 May 2020 | Mining Weekly

Black Cube, the private intelligence agency run by former Israeli spies, spent months setting up companies around the world. Offices, websites and employees were painstakingly put in place — all part of a sting targeting former executives at Brazilian mining giant Vale.

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In Mukungwe, Democratic Republic of Congo, thousands of young men and women live in makeshift huts. They have no access to sanitation or health facilities. They work as manual drillers, carriers or timber specialists in narrow underground tunnels, which exposes them to everything from toxic metals to cave-ins and even suffocation.

Les richesses considérables du Sahara Occidental n’ont pas fini d’aiguiser les appétits de l’Europe | 21 May 2020 | Algérie Press Service

Les richesses considérables du Sahara Occidental “n’ont pas fini d’aiguiser les appétits” de l’Europe qui ne joue pas complètement la carte de la transparence et du droit international, a affirmé l’économiste belge, Xavier Dupret, relevant que l’action du Front Polisario met de plus en plus à mal l’unilatéralisme franco-marocain dans la région.

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Zambia, in diversification push, starts processing artisanal gold | 13 May 2020 | Reuters

Zambia has built 10 milling plants to process gold in a drive to formalise artisanal and small-scale miners and diversify from copper mining, state mining investment company ZCCM-IH said on Wednesday.

How illegal mining is sabotaging the Nigerian economy | 13 May 2020 | The Cable

The Honourable Minster of Mines and Steel Development, Arc Olamilekan Adegbite, blew the whistle on some “powerful and influential” Nigerians recently during a media briefing in Abuja. What was the story? According to Arc Adegbite, these economic saboteurs – that’s what they are – have been putting pressure on the federal government to free Chinese nationals arrested for illegal mining in the country. In other words, these men of means and privileged access to power are trying to give the Honourable Minister a hard time simply because he’s doing his job.

No, cobalt is not a conflict mineral | 5 May 2020 | African Arguments

Global demand for cobalt is estimated to more than quadruple in the next ten years. Mislabelling it particular hurts vulnerable Congolese miners.

Potentiel minier inexploité ou sous-exploité (4e partie) : le cas du Sénégal | 5 May 2020 | Agence Ecofin

Zoom sur le Sénégal, un pays avec une longue tradition d’exploitation minière, mais où des efforts sont encore nécessaires afin de faire du secteur un véritable levier de développement.

Small miners’ love for cheap gold, keeps mercury flowing | 30 April 2020 | The East African

Opening the black box: Local insights into the formal and informal global mercury trade revealed (pdf) | April 2020 |IUCN

The artisanal and small-scale gold mining sector is the force behind trade in mercury even as experts warn of the heavy metal’s risks to not just health but also the environment.

DRC’s Virunga: Park, gorillas and rangers all under attack | 29 April 2020 | San Francisco Bay View

How can anyone not love gorillas? They look like the world’s meanest mofos but in fact they’re family-oriented vegetarians who love to play and swing from trees when they’re not munching on stems, bamboo shoots and fruits, or maybe ants and termites or their larvae.

Potentiel minier sous-exploité (3e partie) : le cas du Cameroun | 28 April 2020 | Agence Ecofin

Ce troisième épisode de la série s’intéresse au Cameroun, un pays où l’Etat n’arrive pas encore à véritablement maitriser un secteur au potentiel immense, mais englué en grande partie dans l’informel et la clandestinité.

ARMS TRADE

Making a killing: Israeli mercenaries in Cameroon | 23 June 2020 | African Arguments

In November 2018, Eran Moas basked under the Caribbean sun by an infinity pool stretching towards the horizon. The Israeli citizen was taking a much-needed break by holidaying in the Bahamas with his wife and children. Moas enjoys this lifestyle thanks to his long-standing job with the Rapid Intervention Battalion (BIR), an elite unit of the Cameroonian army, as well as business ventures with the Cameroonian government.

Breaking Terrorism Supply Chains in West Africa | 8 June 2020 | ISS | AllAfrica

Last month Burkina Faso and Côte d’Ivoire jointly conducted Operation Comoé along their borders. They captured 38 suspected terrorists, killed eight, and dismantled training camps. The operation reflects growing concern in these and other West African coastal states about a spillover of violent extremism and the need to prevent attacks from being staged in their territories.

Niger lost $120 million in arms deals over three years: government audit | 27 May 2020 | Reuters

Almost 40% of the $312 million Niger spent on defence procurement contracts over the last three years was lost through inflated costs or materiel that was not delivered, according to a government audit of military contracts seen by Reuters.

Ventes d’armes françaises : ce que l’on veut nous cacher (pdf) | 27 May 2020 | Amnesty International France

À l’heure où la France doit remettre son rapport annuel sur ses exportations et importations d’armes, nous faisons le point sur les omissions volontaires du gouvernement à ce sujet. Le manque de transparence de la France sur ses ventes d’armes fait l’objet de préoccupations récurrentes.

Tchad : les forces de l’ordre et de sécurité arrêtent des trafiquants d’armes | 26 May 2020 | Journal du Tchad

C’était au cours d’une opération lancée par les forces de défense et de sécurité le 24 mai, 5 présumés malfrats ont été appréhendés dans le Logone oriental, ils détenaient des armes de pointe et de munitions.

Lifting the arms embargo on South Sudan would be a disgrace | 22 May 2020 | Mail & Guardian

The African Union (AU) under the chairmanship of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa — in this year in which it is calling for the ‘silencing of the guns’ — has an opportunity to show the world that it can take a stand against its member states which are violating the human rights of its citizens.

Sudan delivered weapons to South Sudanese security service: Un report | 19 May 2020 | Sudan Tribune

Sudan’s intelligence and security services, in violation of the arms embargo on South Sudan, delivered weapons and ammunition to the National Security Service during the year 2019, said a UN panel.

Dubai-based firms sent mercenaries to Libya – UN report | 17 May 2020 | TRT World

A report by a UN Panel of Experts said the foreign mercenaries were affiliated with Lancaster 6 DMCC and Opus Capital Asset Limited FZE, both registered at free zones in the UAE, Bloomberg reported.

Is Human Rights Training Working with Foreign Militaries? No One Knows and That Is OK. | 12 May 2020 | War on the Rocks

Training a foreign army is not like training your own military. This seems obvious, but the differences are often not accepted in practice. For example, there’s time constraints. Donors want instantaneous improvements in combat lethality and compliance with international laws. The tactical, operational, and professional skills that take a soldier years to learn in a Western military are expected to be mastered by local forces in months. Then there is the scale of the challenge.

Trafic d’armes entre la RDC et la Centrafrique: le profil de la femme interpellée se précise | 7 May 2020 | RFI

En RDC, l’enquête sur le trafic d’armes et de munitions entre Kinshasa, le Nord-Ubangi et certaines régions du sud de la Centrafrique est en cours. Des interpellations ont été menées à Kinshasa comme dans la ville de Gbadolite où, il y a une semaine, des armes de guerre et des munitions ont été saisies à l’aéroport en provenance de Kinshasa. Dans ce dossier, une femme d’affaires a été arrêtée à l’aéroport de Gbadolite. Après un bref séjour en détention, elle a été transférée à Kinshasa. Elle est considérée par les autorités provinciales comme le cerveau de ce trafic.

Ethiopia to Begin Registration of Privately-Held Firearms | 4 May 2020 | Ezega

The government of Ethiopia will begin registration of privately held guns shortly and institutions and individuals should get their small arms registered over the coming two years, the federal attorney general has said.

South Sudan – Evidence of Violations and Illicit Concealment of Arms Must Spur UN to Renew Arms Embargo | 30 April 2020 | Amnesty International

The UN Security Council must renew and strengthen enforcement of the arms embargo on South Sudan, Amnesty International said today, exposing new evidence that multiple security forces are breaching it and concealing weapons amid a volatile security situation. Next month the Security Council is set to vote on a resolution that would renew the embargo, which currently expires on 31 May 2020.

CONFLICT

Congo vows zero tolerance over child soldiers after U.S. anti-trafficking nod | 1 July 2020 | Reuters

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) must do more to end the use of child soldiers by the military and armed groups, its human rights minister said after the U.S. government commended the country’s progress on fighting human trafficking.

Children and Armed Conflict Monthly Update – July 2020 | 1 July 2020 | Watchlist on Children and Armed Conflict

Three parties to conflict are listed in the Secretary-General’s (SG) 2020 annual report (S/2020/525) on children and armed conflict (CAC) for recruitment and use, killing and maiming, and rape and other forms of sexual violence. The Lord’s Resistance Army is also listed for abduction, and the former Séléka coalition and associated groups are also listed for attacks on schools and hospitals.

Why the African Union has failed to ‘silence the guns’ | 30 June 2020 | The Conversation

Seven years ago African leaders committed themselves to working towards an end to armed conflict. As they marked the 50th anniversary of the founding of the African Union they swore to ensure lasting peace on the continent. They pledged not to bequeath the burden of conflicts to the next generation of Africans.

UNHCR appalled at rising violence against displaced in eastern DRC | 30 June 2020 | UNHCR

UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, is alarmed at the increasing number of violent attacks on displaced civilians by armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). We are calling on the authorities to strengthen the presence of police, military forces with support of the UN Organization Stabilization Mission in the DRC (MONUSCO) to improve the security situation and hold the perpetrators accountable.

Beyond ending conflict in Africa, we must tackle its root causes | 25 June 2020 | Africa Renewal | UN

Hanna Tetteh is the United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Special Representative of the Secretary-General to the African Union. As head of the UN Office to the African Union (UNOAU), Ms. Tetteh spoke with Africa Renewal’s Kingsley Ighobor on, among other issues, the current state of the UN-AU partnership and how women and young people can help resolve conflict. These are excerpts from the interview.

Sahel : deux guerres qui n’en font qu’une | 17 June 2020 | Actu Cameroun

L’une, menée par la France et ses alliés, et l’autre, faite par les armées du Mali, du Burkina Faso et du Niger, ne sont que les deux faces d’un même conflit.

Violence en Ituri, une crise oubliée | 11 June 2020 | MSF | Le Courier

Au cours des deux derniers mois, la recrudescence de la violence dans la province de l’Ituri, dans le nord-est de la RDC, a entraîné une nouvelle vague de déplacements forcés. 1,2 million de personnes vivent actuellement dans des camps ou des abris de fortune. Alex Wade, de Médecins sans frontières, témoigne de leurs désastreuses conditions de vie.

Sahel : les civils, premières victimes collatérales | 11 June 2020 | Le Point

Les soldats du Mali, du Burkina Faso et du Niger sont accusés d’exactions sur les populations. Après l’ONU, Amnesty International tire la sonnette d’alarme.

Africa is home to nine of ten of the world’s most neglected crises | 10 June 2020 | NRC | ReliefWeb

Cameroon, DR Congo and Burkina Faso are the most neglected displacement crises in the world, according to the Norwegian Refugee Council’s annual list launched today.

Thirty-First Report of the Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court to the United Nations Security Council pursuant to UNSCR 1593 (2005) | 10 June 2020 | ICC | ReliefWeb

Despite the global disruption caused by the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the Republic of the Sudan (“Sudan”) continues to make progress in ongoing discussions regarding justice for the victims of the Darfur conflict. In particular, accountability for crimes in Darfur remains a central issue in the peace negotiations between the Government of Sudan and rebel groups in Juba, South Sudan.

Child Soldiers Are Helping End a Forever War | 10 June 2020 | Foreign Policy

Gone are the black-magic amulets that promised invincibility in the heat of battle. So too are the machetes and homemade rifles, once used to hunt civilians like game. Khaki berets and menacing face scarves have been swapped for rainboots and high-visibility jackets. An unlikely crew of maintenance workers, made up of former child soldiers and other vulnerable youngsters in the Central African Republic (CAR), was hard at work in June 2019. Deployed to an impoverished suburb of the capital, Bangui, they were digging a well for a community otherwise cut off from water supplies.

New UN report highlights link between gender, climate and security | 9 June 2020 | UN News

Even as countries buckle under the devastating social and economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, they must consider the links between gender inequality and crisis, particularly in communities affected by climate change and conflict. That’s the premise of a new UN report which argues that understanding these connections can help policymakers and donors to mitigate risks of violence and support the building of resilient, inclusive and peaceful societies.

Darfur war crimes suspect Ali Kushayb ‘detained in CAR’ | 9 June 2020 | Dabanga

Former Darfur janjaweed leader Ali Kushayb, who has been indicted for crimes against humanity by the International Criminal Court (ICC), was arrested in the Central African Republic (CAR) on Monday, Radio Dabanga has been informed by reliable sources.

Rebel group suspends participation in Central Africa peace pact | 6 June 2020 | News24

A key militia in the Central African Republic has said it is suspending its participation in a peace agreement signed by the government and rebel groups last year that has led to relative calm in the war-torn country.

Libya: shocking new evidence of retaliatory attacks on civilians | 5 June 2020 | Amnesty International

New evidence obtained by Amnesty International indicates that war crimes and other violations may have been committed between 13 April and 1 June by warring parties in Libya during the latest surge in fighting near Tripoli.

Escalating conflict is fueling a humanitarian crisis in eastern Burkina Faso | 5 June 2020 | Médecins Sans Frontières

While COVID-19 makes headlines around the world, less visible humanitarian crises continue to escalate. In the villages of Burkina Faso’s eastern region, killings, abductions, and looting are now a regular occurrence. This is one of the areas most affected by the conflict between Burkino Faso’s national security forces and various armed groups, which has seen large numbers of people displaced from their homes.

South Sudan denies allowing Egypt military base near Ethiopia | 5 June 2020 | Middle East Monitor

South Sudan’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation issued a statement resolving the controversy over its approval of Cairo’s request to establish a military base near the Ethiopian border.

Cour pénale spéciale de Centrafrique: Amnesty plaide pour plus “d’efforts” | 3 June 2020 | APA News

L’ONG des droits humains Amnesty International a appelé à « redoubler d’efforts » pour rendre pleinement opérationnelle la Cour pénale spéciale de la République centrafricaine, qui célèbre cette année son cinquième anniversaire.

Burundi: Intimidation, Arrests During Elections | 1 June 2020 | HRW

Serious allegations of abuse during Burundi’s May 20, 2020 elections should be investigated and those responsible held accountable.

DR Congo arrests key suspect in UN experts’ murders | 1 June 2020 | RFI

Democratic Republic of Congo officials say they have arrested militia leader Tresor Mputu Kankonde, one of the top suspects in the 2017 murders of two United Nations experts.

Why recognizing different ethnic groups is good for peace | 31 May 2020 | Oxford University Press Blog

In a time of global crisis that has reproduced many inequalities and reinforced mistrust across lines of identity in diverse societies, one may easily succumb to a sense that meaningful redress and social cohesion are impossible. But, learning from contexts of large scale violence and civil war, there’s reason to believe that “recognition” based strategies can help diverse societies overcome the legacies of their painful histories.

Congo militia leader arrested in 2017 murders of UN experts | 30 May 2020 | Associated Press | Republican Herald

A Congolese militia leader accused of involvement in the murder of an American citizen and a Swedish national working with the United Nations has been arrested more than three years after their brutal slayings, a prosecutor said Saturday.

RDC : nouvelle rébellion en gestation au Sud-Kivu | 29 May 2020 | Actualite.cd

Un officier des Forces armées de la République Démocratique du Congo (FARDC) a alerté ce jeudi 28 mai ACTUALITE.CD, au sujet de la naissance d’une nouvelle rébellion à Minembwe (Sud-Kivu), dans l’est du pays. L’Alliance du Congo pour la Paix (ACP), comme c’est d’elle qu’il s’agit est opérationnelle, pour l’instant, dans le triangle Bijombo, Itombwe et Minembwe.

Peace and security in the Central African Republic | May 2020 | Conciliation Resources

After several failed peace processes, a peace accord was signed in 2019 by the Central African Republic government and 14 armed groups. With the country now preparing for elections in December 2020, this research looks to understand the views of local communities in Bossangoa and the Western Border Zones, in order to inform effective, proactive policy during this crucial period and beyond.

Making a Killing: South Sudanese Military Leaders’ Wealth, Explained | May 2020 | The Sentry

South Sudan’s last four army chiefs of staff, four high-ranking military leaders, and three opposition militia leaders have engaged in business activities indicative of money laundering and corruption, The Sentry has found.

Le BCNUDH s’inquiète de la multiplication des violences et des actes de barbarie dans les territoires de Djugu et Mahagi en Ituri | 27 May 2020 | Bureau conjoint des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme

UN warns of possible war crimes in northeastern Congo | 27 May 2020 | Reuters

Au moins 296 personnes ont été tuées, 151 autres blessées et 38 personnes violées, dont de nombreux femmes et enfants, par les assaillants armés à majorité lendu entre octobre 2019 et avril 2020, selon le Bureau conjoint des Nations Unies aux droits de l’homme (BCNUDH), qui relève une inquiétante détérioration de la situation dans les territoires de Djugu et Mahagi en Ituri.

Ituri : l’armée intensifie les opérations contre les miliciens de CODECO dans plusieurs villages au bord du lac Albert | 26 May 2020 | Actualite.cd

Les forces armées de la République démocratique du Congo (FARDC) affirment avoir intensifié les opérations dans les villages longeant le lac Albert dans le territoire de Djugu.

Rejet du pourvoi en cassation de Fabien Neretse, condamné pour crime de génocide | 27 May 2020 | CCLJ

La Cour de cassation a rejeté, ce mercredi, le pourvoi introduit par l’ancien haut fonctionnaire rwandais Fabien Neretse contre l’arrêt de la cour d’assises de Bruxelles qui l’a condamné pour des crimes commis durant le génocide au Rwanda en 1994.

Civil unrest turns deadly in Guinea | 22 May 2020 | Mail & Guardian

Mouctar Bah had just left the scene of the protests in Coyah, Guinea when he received a call telling him his brother had been shot. Bah told Al Jazeera that by the time he got to the hospital, his younger brother was dead.

U.N. prosecutor: remains of Rwandan war crimes suspect found in Congo | 22 May 2020 | Reuters

The remains of a fugitive major suspect in Rwanda’s 1994 genocide have been identified in a grave in the Republic of the Congo, a United Nations war crimes prosecutor said on Friday.

Condamné par la CPI, Thomas Lubanga dénonce à son tour un génocide en Ituri | 22 May 2020 | DW

En liberté après avoir purgé la peine de 14 ans de prison à laquelle il était condamné par la CPI, l’ex-chef de guerre Thomas Lubanga évoque cette condamnation et dénonce à son tour un “génocide” en cours en Ituri.

Armed conflict displaces 660,000 since UN call for global ceasefire | 22 May 2020 | Norwegian Refugee Council

Armed conflict forced more than 660,000 people around the world to flee their homes between March 23 and May 15, leaving people more exposed to Covid-19, and is preventing global efforts to control the pandemic.

The Arrest of the Rwandan Genocide’s Bankroller is a Warning to Others, including Western States | 21 May 2020 | Justice in Conflict

Time has a funny way of catching up with people. Perhaps that thought crossed Félicien Kabuga’s mind when police raided an apartment on the outskirts of Paris this past weekend and arrested him. Kabuga had been on the run for over twenty-five years when he was finally detained on several charges relating to his role in 1994 the Rwandan Genocide.

Togo: aux avant-postes de la guerre contre les jihadistes | 21 May 2020 | TV5Monde

Tapis sous un arbre derrière des sacs de riz, citadelle de fortune, une poignée de soldats lourdement armés surveillent en silence les va-et-vient des villageois qui franchissent la frontière entre le Togo et le Burkina Faso à pieds ou à vélo. Seule une rivière asséchée sépare les deux pays.

Support Islamists against ‘state terrorism’ in Mali, Nigeria, CAR, says ex-military advisor of Turkey’s president | 21 May 2020 | Nordic Monitor

Turkey should support Islamic groups against state terrorism in some critical regions of Africa such as the Central African Republic (CAR), Mali and Nigeria, said retired Gen. Adnan Tanrıverdi, the former chief military aide to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan who also owns private military contractor SADAT, which many believe is a de facto paramilitary force loyal to the Islamist president of Turkey.

Félicien Kabuga: Rwanda genocide suspect arrested in France | 16 May 2020 | BBC

Félicien Kabuga, one of the most wanted suspects of the Rwandan genocide, has been arrested near Paris, the French justice ministry has announced. Mr Kabuga was detained in a dawn raid in Asnières-sur-Seine, where he had been living under a false identity.

SPLM-IG’s intransigence on the allocation of the States | 14 May 2020 | Sudan Tribune

The signing of the Revitalized Agreement on the Resolution of the Conflict in the Republic of South Sudan (R-ARCSS) in September 2018 was received with jubilation by the war-weary South Sudanese. They believed it was going to bring their suffering to an end. For five years they witnessed terrible horrors of war: killings, displacement, violence against women, destruction of property, violations of human rights and humanitarian law and plummeting economy. The country was on the edge of a cliff.

Renegade Sudan army faction accused of killing RSF troops in clashes | 14 May 2020 | Middle East Eye

Nine members of Sudan’s government-aligned Rapid Support Forces (RSF) have been killed in clashes with a renegade faction of the army, an RSF spokesperson told Middle East Eye, as a fresh wave of ethnic violence erupted in the country’s south.

For the Army, With the Army, Like the Army? The Rise of Guidon Shimiray and the NDC-Rénové in Eastern Congo |13 May 2020 | CIC

Formerly a small local militia, Guidon Shimiray’s Nduma Defence of Congo-Rénové (NDC-R) is today one of the most powerful armed groups in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC). What role does it play in the dynamics of violence in this part of the country, where regional states’ interests are intertwined with local conflicts?

Tchad : 27 mineurs illégaux d’or tués par l’armée | 13 May 2020 | Sahel Intelligence

Au moins 27 mineurs illégaux ont été tués par les forces de sécurité dans le nord-ouest du Tchad, à la frontière avec la Libye, après avoir été confondus avec des jihadistes, ont confirmé des sources sécuritaires.

Violence in northern Nigeria drives 23,000 to Niger | 12 May 2020 | France24

Violence in northwest Nigeria has forced about 23,000 refugees to flee to Niger since April and raised concerns about the deteriorating security situation, the United Nations refugee agency said on Tuesday.

The flawed logic behind French military interventions in Africa | 12 May 2020 | The Conversation

Two French soldiers have died during military operations in Mali taking part in Operation Barkhane in recent weeks. This follows the death of 13 soldiers in a helicopter crash in November 2019. With 5,100 troops concentrated principally in Mali, Niger and Chad, the main function of Operation Barkhane is to combat jihadist groups in the region. It represents France’s largest overseas military operation in Africa since the Algerian War in the 1950s.

La RDC accuse la Zambie de vouloir annexer une partie de son territoire | 10 May 2020 | KivuPress

Le gouvernement congolais a accusé, vendredi, la Zambie de vouloir annexer une partie du territoire du sud-est de la République démocratique du Congo (RDC) et a décidé de déployer des troupes supplémentaires dans deux villes frontalières avec la Zambie.

Thousands Forced to Flee Violent Interethnic Attacks in Eastern DRC | 10 May 2020 | VoA

In the last two months, the U.N. Refugee Agency reports more than 200,000 people have been forced to flee surging violence between the Lendu and Hema groups in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo’s Ituri Province.

Le Burkina “déplore” des violences des forces de l’ordre contre des réfugiés maliens | 6 May 2020 | Benin24tv

Le gouvernement du Burkina Faso a déploré mardi qu’une «opération de ratissage» de ses forces de l’ordre ait causé des blessés dans un camp de réfugiés maliens dans le nord du pays. Le Haut-Commissariat de l’ONU pour les réfugiés (HCR) avait condamné lundi des violences des forces de sécurité burkinabè contre des réfugiés maliens – qu’elles accusaient de «complicité» avec des assaillants djihadistes – dans le camp de Mentao, près de Djibo, ayant fait «32 blessés» samedi.

En Afrique, des armées accusées de brutalité | 5 May 2020 | DW

De nombreuses exactions sur des populations civiles sont imputées à certaines forces armées et de sécurité. Ces atteintes aux droits humains sont régulièrement dénoncées par les ONG nationales et internationales.

Rebel splits and failed peace talks drive new violence in Congo’s Ituri | 5 May 2020 | The New Humanitarian

When hundreds of militiamen arrived in January at a government-run demobilisation camp in the Democratic Republic of Congo’s northeastern province of Ituri, there was a flicker of hope that more than two years of conflict might be abating.

Massacre de Rangers: la RDC accuse de nouveau des rebelles hutus rwandais | 4 May 2020 | La Libre Belgique

La République démocratique du Congo a de nouveau accusé les rebelles hutu rwandais des Forces démocratiques alliées (FDLR) d’être les auteurs du massacre d’une douzaine des Rangers fin avril dans le parc des Virunga, selon les résultats d’une “enquête préliminaire”, a indiqué lundi un responsable sécuritaire.

RCA : affrontements intergroupe armés à Ndélé, le Patron du PRNC Nourd Gregaza dénonce le comportement de la Minusca | 4 May 2020 | Corbeau News

Communiqué de presse de Monsieur Nourd Gregaza , Président du PRNC.

Burundi : aux racines d’une crise ancienne et particulièrement complexe… | 3 May 2020 | FranceTvInfo

La situation est très tendue au Burundi, où des élections présidentielle, législatives et municipales doivent se tenir le 20 mai 2020. Les raisons de cette crise très complexe plongent dans le passé. Pour les appréhender, il faut remonter dans l’histoire de ce pays, ancienne colonie allemande, puis belge, devenue indépendante en 1962. Une histoire au cours de laquelle ont été assassinées des centaines de milliers de personnes, Hutus comme Tutsis. Quelques clefs pour tenter de comprendre une réalité plus que complexe.

Malian army responsible for 101 extrajudicial killings at start of 2020 – UN report says | 2 May 2020 | RFI

La sale guerre des forces du G5 Sahel | 4 May 2020 | Mondafrique

Malian soldiers carried out more than 100 extrajudicial killings in the first three months of 2020, according to a report published this week by UN human rights monitors. In total, 589 violations of human rights were documented in Mail between 1 January and 31 March, said the UN mission in Mali (Minusma).

“Présence de militaires rwandais” dans l’Est de la RDC : décryptage du silence de F. Tshisekedi et des propos ambigus de J. Makelele | 2 May 2020 | Actualite.cd

Des semaines, des mois durant, malgré les rumeurs persistantes sur la présence de militaires rwandais dans les provinces du Nord et du Sud-Kivu, les populations de ces contrées ont vainement attendu la réaction de la RDC d’en haut. Récemment, d’aucuns ont même évoqué “l’envahissement” du territoire congolais par l’armée rwandaise. Kinshasa resté aphone. Ou presque.

RDC : quatre miliciens tués dans le Parc national | 30 April 2020 | VONews

Quatre miliciens ont été tués et quatre blessés dans le Parc national de Kahuzi Biega (PNKB) dans l’est de la République démocratique du Congo au cours d’une opération contre un groupe se livrant à des activités illégales, a indiqué mercredi le PNKB.

Dozens killed in northeast Central African Republic clashes | 30 April 2020 | Al Jazeera

At least 25 people have been killed and 51 others wounded in clashes in the northeast of the Central African Republic, according to the country’s communications minister.

Rwanda accuses Burundi army of fighting in DR Congo | 28 April 2020 | BBC

Rwanda’s President Paul Kagame has accused Burundi’s army of fighting in eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, as he denied claims of deploying his own troops to the region.

US military sheds some light on civilian casualties from shadowy war in Somalia | 27 April 2020 | Amnesty International

This first regular public report acknowledging AFRICOM’s role in civilian casualties is a welcome glimmer of transparency in more than a decade of deadly military operations that until now have been shrouded in secrecy. Now there must be accountability and reparation for the victims and their families.”

Burkina Faso : Nouveaux massacres commis par des groupes armés islamistes | 27 April 2020 | Pressafrik

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.

Sahel: des membres du Conseil européenne et les États membres du G5 Sahel réaffirment leur engagement pour la sécurité et la stabilité | 25 April 2020 | Wakatsera

Ceci est une déclaration conjointe des membres du Conseil européen avec les États membres du G5 Sahel qui réaffirment leur engagement conjoint pour la sécurité, la stabilité et le développement du Sahel.