The Vile Scramble For Loot

How British Corporations are Fuelling War in the Congo – Published on ZNet, by Robert Miller, November 19, 2009.

The Democratic Republic of Congo is suffering what is almost certainly the worst humanitarian crisis in the world:

  • In their 2007 study of mortality rates in the DRC the International Rescue Committee estimated that, as a result of the war, “5.4 million excess deaths have occurred between August 1998 and April 2007.”
  • The IRC report also estimated that the “DR Congo’s national crude mortality rate (CMR) of 2.2 deaths per 1,000 per month is 57 percent higher than the average rate for sub-Saharan Africa”, and in eastern provinces, which are the most violent, the CMR is “2.6 deaths per 1,000 per month, a rate that is 85 percent higher than the sub-Saharan average.”
  • [1 The charity "Raise Hope for Congo" reports that "45,000 people die each month [in Eastern Congo], mostly from hunger and disease resulting from the ongoing conflict, and over 1 million people have been displaced.”
  • [2 That is approximately 1,500 deaths a day, 62 deaths an hour and a death every minute.
  • If you take the figure of 45,000 deaths a month as constant then at the time of writing (November 2009), 1,350,000 people have died as a result of the war in Eastern Congo since the IRC published its study.
  • That would put the total amount of excess deaths at 6,750,000 (6.75 million). 

According to the British charity Save the Congo, "You could take all lives lost in Bosnia, Rwanda 1994 [sic] and Darfur then add the 2005 Asian tsunami, then add a 9-11 every single day for 356 days and then go through Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Put all of those together, multiply by 2 and you still don’t reach the number of lives that has been lost in the Congo since the war started.” They also say that “[hundreds of thousands] of women and young girls have been brutally gang raped and around 40% of all adult women have been made widows.”[3] …

… Since these are only the companies that have been through Rwanda and only the ones documented by the Rwanda Revenue Authority it is only a small sample of the corporations exploiting minerals from the Congo, but it is indicative of how many are doing it.

Global witness reports that:

  • According to Congolese government statistics, companies registered in Belgium accounted for the largest proportion of cassiterite, wolframite and coltan imports from North and South Kivu in 2007 and from North Kivu from January to September 2008.
  • The main Belgian companies are Trademet, Traxys, SDE, STI and Specialty Metals.
  • After these Belgian companies, the largest buyers of cassiterite from North and South Kivu in 2007 were the Thailand Smelting and Refining Corporation (THAISARCO), the world’s fifth-largest tin-producing company owned by the large British metals company Amalgamated Metal Corporation (AMC) Group;
  • Afrimex, a UK-registered company (see below); and MPA , the Rwanda-based subsidiary of South-African owned Kivu Resources.
  • These were followed by the Malaysian Smelting Corporation Berhad (the world’s fourth-largest tin-producing company), and companies based in China, India, Austria, the Netherlands and Russia.
  • Four other companies – African Ventures Ltd in China, Met Trade India Ltd in India, Eurosib Logistics JSC in Russia and BEB Investment Inc. in Canada – accounted for an increasing proportion of cassiterite imports from North Kivu between January and September 2008.
  • For coltan, the largest importers in 2007 were Traxys, THAISARCO and companies based in Hong Kong and South Africa.
  • For wolframite, Belgian companies (Trademet and Specialty Metals) were once again the largest buyers in 2007.
  • Other buyers included Afrimex, THAISARCO and companies registered in the Netherlands, China, Austria, United Arab Emirates and Russia.
  • There are no reliable statistics for gold exports from North or South Kivu.
  • Even for cassiterite, wolframite and coltan, Congolese government statistics are incomplete, and there are large discrepancies with corresponding statistics from importing countries. [36]
  • In another report[37] in 2002, the Panel of Experts listed 85 “business enterprises considered by the panel to be in violation of the OECD guidelines for multinational enterprises”. The table has been reproduced here:[38].

… (full long text).

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