Nicole Mawazo lives in Ngoyo and has built up a successful business by combining farming with operating a small restaurant. Forced to look after herself and her brothers after Rwandan or Ugandan soldiers killed her parents, Nicole began producing ‘Kindingi’, a home-made, highly alcoholic, corn-banana brew, which she sold to artisanal miners. Eventually, she saved up enough to start farming and running a restaurant. “This has provided well for us,” she explained proudly, adding that her husband contributes almost nothing to the family.

US appoints new Special Representative

Gold mining has a particularly destructive impact on children, who can earn US$50 per month from gold mining. For children whose families regularly teeter on the brink of starvation the choice is simple. “Going to school is a waste of time for them,” said Lillian, a teacher. “Gold is too tempting. 10-year-olds threaten me with physical violence if I ask them to return to school.” Although it is widely understood that the law forbids children working as miners, police controls are sporadic and almost always unsuccessful.

With the invasions of the first Arab and Belgian conquerors and colonialists, traditional Congolese land management and governance systems were severely disrupted. The new systems imposed by European administrators may well be one of the ‘most important means by which African economies were rendered structurally dependent on external economies and markets’.

The new face of artisanal gold mining in Congo

In 2011, the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) launched a regional monitoring effort to assess the physical, social and economic security risks, as well as the socio-economic, humanitarian and commercial conditions, faced by artisanal gold-mining communities in the provinces of North and South Kivu, Maniema and Orientale in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The research sought to answer two fundamental questions that have been asked for many years:

The ‘conflict minerals’ campaign has been hugely influential, particularly in relation to the DRC. It has focussed attention on how the illicit trade in all sorts of minerals – such as coltan, cassiterite and tantalum – has fomented conflict and facilitated mass human rights violations. However, it has also helped to divert attention away from other mining-related abuses and from the reality that conflict minerals are everywhere – because everywhere you go, mining companies and their paid-up protectors in government are in conflict with local communities.

The capture of Goma by M23 rebel forces is the latest demonstration of the ineffectiveness of the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and its army (the FARDC). Whatever the political machinations behind the military’s most recent capitulation may be, the overarching themes are the longstanding institutional and governance weaknesses of Congo’s central authorities – weaknesses that the Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) has highlighted multiple times in its reports and analyses.

The Southern Africa Resource Watch (SARW) organised a major consultative conference in Kinshasa on 2-3 May, 2013 to discuss the impact of key peace agreements and the trade in conflict minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The laws of war, also known as international humanitarian law, have long protected property against pillage during armed conflict.

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