Nicolas Postal/EPA

Child soldiers from the Mai-Mai militia guard the headquarters of their leader in Kisharu, Democratic Republic of Congo. Photograph: Nicolas Postal/EPA

In the Eastern DRC Laurent Nkunda, mentioned in the previous post, Part 1 of DRC- Minerals, militaries, money and violence, is the leader of the Tutsi militia. There are also Hutu militias, one of the largest of which is the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda (FDLR). The Guardian has a couple of image galleries of the people displaced by the violence in the eastern DRC, here and here. All of these militias conscript and indoctrinate child soldiers. From Chris McGreal in the Guardian:

… the extremist Hutu rebels who control large areas of eastern Congo and are among the most important causes of the conflict there that has claimed an estimated five million lives or more over the past decade and continues to kill about 45,000 people each month in Congo through the effects of war – principally starvation and disease.


While the rank and file of the FDLR survives by plundering, their leaders are involved in altogether more lucrative ventures. A 2007 World Bank-funded study estimates that the FDLR leadership makes millions of dollars a year from taking over mines in parts of North Kivu, such as Masisi and Walikale, or from those doing the hard labour through levying “taxes” of gold, coltan, diamonds and other minerals on mine owners.

The study estimates that the FDLR controls half of the mineral trade in the Kivus outside of the main towns, and oversees the smuggling of gold and diamonds for sale in neighbouring countries such as Uganda and Burundi. It is not alone in this. The Rwandan, Ugandan and Burundi armies, as well as warlords and militias, have also carved up the mineral plunder and smuggling rackets.

You can read the entire account of the FDLR with pictures here at the Guardian.

Also as mentioned in the previous post, the World Bank and the IMF have praised both Rwanda and Uganda for increasing their gross domestic product from illegal mining of DRC resources. Both the World Bank and the IMF know neither Rwanda or Uganda has these mineral resources in their own countries. Such praise, and the accompanying financial incentives exacerbate the violence and exploitation.

The violence that erupted last week may be cooling down. Alan Doss, who represents the UN in the DRC, the Democratic Republic of the Congo:

says calm has returned to Rutshuru in the country’s volatile North Kivu province following last week’s clashes between Government forces and armed rebel groups. … The clashes that broke out on 28 August between the Congolese Armed Forces (FARDC) and the National Congress for People’s Defense, known by its French acronym CNDP, was some of the worst fighting since a peace deal was signed by the parties in January.

But there is a new player in town. The Chinese have come into the DRC in a big way with contracts to extract copper and cobalt, and in return build roads, railroads, clinics, schools, and two universities. This 20 minute video from the BBC describes the huge copper and cobalt mine they plan to exploit, and the network of roads, rail, schools and clinics the Chinese have promised to build in return. So far the Chinese seem to be very image conscious. However, this 12 minute BBC video from Zambia describes the Zambian public as highly disillusioned with the Chinese presence, particularly labor practices and safety issues, and Zambians say the Chinese management purposely ran the large clothing factory into the ground so it would not be competitive with subsidized textiles from China. China is doing the same thing the EU and US have been doing, destroy African markets by dumping subsidized goods. And the Zambians say promised schools and training never materialized.

Below is the map from the BBC video on China in the DRC with all the infrastructure promised in the Chinese contract for copper and cobalt in the DRC. The large icons are the promised universities. The second map is the same, but just shows the roads and rail promised.

DRC map with infrastructure projects promised by the Chinese

DRC map with infrastructure projects promised by the Chinese

DRC roads and rail line promised by the Chinese contract

DRC roads and rail line promised by the Chinese contract

In the map the roads run north and south, along the eastern side of the DRC. The rail line runs from east to west.

IF China actually builds the roads, rail, and actually builds schools and the two univeristies called for in the contract with the DRC, that would be quite remarkable and provide a long overdue genuine step to positive development. It would also provide a positive challenge to the west. Mostly the west, when it noticed at all, has bemoaned the fact that people are killing and raping in the DRC, but ignored the ongoing western role in subsidizing and encouraging this violence.

And how will the west react to this Chinese presence? As you can see, the road network is north and south, up and down the mineral rich eastern DRC, and the rail, west to southeast, can take minerals to the coast. Will the US and other foreign business and governments who are profiting from the current situation in the DRC allow the Chinese to build this infrastructure without interference?