UN-backed operations fail to defeat Congo rebels

PARIS - Military operations have failed to contain Rwandan-Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and action is needed to restrict their financing, says a new report by UN experts.

PARIS - Military operations have failed to contain Rwandan-Hutu rebels in the Democratic Republic of Congo and action is needed to restrict their financing, says a new report by UN experts.

In a major report for the UN Security Council, unpublished but seen by AFP, researchers said Congolese, Rwandan and UN forces have failed to disarm the FDLR rebels.

The report also alleges that the FDLR is managing to recruit mercenaries using profits from a corrupt international trade in minerals.

The militia sprang up in camps in the east of the DRC, housing mainly ethnic Hutu refugees who fled Rwanda after their leaders launched the 1994 genocide, which left about 800000 people dead.

The military campaign has been undermined by corruption and brutality within the official Congolese armed forces, the report says.

Companies are buying minerals from jungle mines controlled and operated by Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR) cadres, while middlemen are smuggling millions of dollars in gold to Dubai every year.

The document was researched on the ground in the Congo region over six months by a five-strong team of experts hired by UN Secretary General Ban Ki-moon in order to prepare a report for Security Council members.

The experts also say that since March an offensive against the militia by Congolese forces, some of whose officers have supplied weapons to the rebels, has made life even worse for the beleaguered civilian population.

"Scores of villages have been pillaged, thousands of houses burnt and several hundred thousand people have been displaced in order to escape from the violence generated by these military operations," it says. - Sapa-AFP

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