News: UN troops smuggled gold, ivory and 'armed Congo rebels'

An 18-month BBC investigation for Panorama has found evidence that:

- Pakistani peacekeepers in the eastern town of Mongbwalu were involved in the illegal trade in gold with the FNI militia (described by Human Rights Watch as "some of the most murderous individuals that operate in eastern Congo"), providing them with weapons to guard the perimeter of the mines.
- The Indians traded gold, bought drugs from the militias and flew a UN helicopter into the Virunga National Park, where they exchanged ammunition for ivory.

A UN investigation concluded that one officer had been responsible for dealing in gold - allowing traders to use UN aircraft to fly into the town, putting them up at the UN base and taking them around the town. But the UN decided that "in the absence of corroborative evidence" its investigators "could not substantiate the allegation" that Pakistani peacekeepers supplied weapons or ammunition to the militia.

It did, however, identify "an individual who seemed to have facilitated gold smuggling".

The BBC allegations were confirmed by militia leaders. UN insiders close to the investigation told the BBC they had been prevented from pursuing their inquiries for political reasons. (Full)

My comments:
This is despicable and a slap in the face of those UN humanitarians who do try to make a difference.
It is not the first time the UN peacekeeping (UNDPKO) troops have been discredited by scandals (see the post Sometimes I am ashamed to work for the UN). A lack of consequent leadership in UNDPKO, a lack of accountability, direct and clear lines of command, proper supervision, proper screening of the troops, justice for those offending the rules, transparent and public auditing... and above all a lack of political will to structurally make a change to avoid similar scandals from happening again and again.

Update May 2: Human Rights Watch claims UN investigators in Congo ignored misconduct (Full)

Via International Aid Workers Today

Picture courtesy Marco Longari (AFP), BBC


Mats 04 May, 2008 15:01  

Am not surprised.. Individuals in the countries sending the troops are then also stopping the allowance to their soldiers in the field and only paying the allowances when they return back home.. Ofcourse due to the internal corruption skimming of money from the soldiers giving them even less incentive to even consider doing a good and transparent clean job.

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