UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA - AFRICAN STUDIES CENTER
GREAT LAKES: Rebel activities financed by drugs trade
NAIROBI, 23 November (IRIN) - A UN report says Rwandan rebels fighting in the Great Lakes region are financing their activities through the narcotics trade. A final report by the UN International Commission of Inquiry investigating illegal arms flows in the Great Lakes region found that Rwandan ex-FAR, Interahamwe and other armed groups were directly involved in the drugs trade.
The report, received on Monday by IRIN, said information suggested that mandrax destined for South Africa was smuggled from India into Kenya and Tanzania. Narcotics were also said to be supplied from Latin America. According to the Commission - which has a Security Council mandate - numerous reports implicate prominent members of the ex-FAR and Interahamwe based in Mombasa and Dar es Salaam.
The report also said the attitude of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) government towards the Commission, which initially was favourable, changed after the August 1998 rebellion. The Commission said that despite repeated requests it was never invited to visit the DRC. It cited its sources as estimating there were at least 5,000-8,000 ex-FAR/Interahamwe in northern DRC and 10,000 in the south, and that the numbers were growing.
The report said many of the rebels have converged in DRC from countries where they had been scattered, notably Congo-Brazzaville, Sudan, Central African Republic, Angola, Burundi, Rwanda, Tanzania, Uganda and Zambia. The Commission believes the rebels "have been receiving significantly enhanced support from some governments of the region", the report said. Other ex-FAR/Interahamwe were in Europe and west Africa, but the Commission said it was difficult to identify and locate the leadership which appeared to play a coordinating role. There was credible information indicating that ex-FAR officers continued to conduct recruitment and fund-raising activities in Kenya to purchase arms intended for use against the Rwandan government, the report added.
The report concluded that the Great Lakes region was heading towards a "catastrophe of incalculable consequences which requires urgent, comprehensive and decisive measures" by the international community. It said the ex-FAR/Interahamwe had emerged from a "defeated and dispersed remnant" to become a "significant component" of the international alliance grouped against the rebel Rassemblement congolais pour la democratie and their backers, Uganda and Rwanda. This has given the ex-FAR/Interahamwe a "form of legitimacy" which is a "profoundly shocking state of affairs", the report said.
The effectiveness of the UN arms embargo on rebel groups has been weakened by the free flow of small arms into and within Africa, the report continued. It therefore reiterated an earlier recommendation that mechanisms be set up to monitor and ensure the implementation of Security Council resolutions. It said action should also be taken to prevent hate radio broadcasts. In addition, any long-term solution to conflict in the Great Lakes should deal with the fact that the ex-FAR/Interahamwe were now a "significant player". In the long-term, steps should be taken to disarm, demobilise and reintegrate members of armed groups into their various societies, the report stated.
Date: Mon, 23 Nov 1998 17:50:37 +0300 (EAT) From: IRIN - Central and Eastern Africa <email@example.com> Subject: GREAT LAKES: Rebel activities financed by drugs trade 1998.11.23
Editor: Dr. Ali B. Ali-Dinar, Ph.D
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