This is a summary of what was said by UNHCR spokesperson Aikaterini Kitidi – to whom quoted text may be attributed – at today’s press briefing at the Palais des Nations in Geneva.
GENEVA, Switzerland, March 6, 2018 – UNHCR, the UN Refugee Agency, remains deeply concerned at the situation in the Kasai region of Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), where continuing instability poses a grave risk to civilian safety, including for several hundred refugees recently returned there from Angola.
Congolese government forces have regained control of large areas of the Kasai, nonetheless there is sporadic fighting between the armed forces and militia groups. Meanwhile, tensions remain high between different ethnic groups, threatening to plunge the region into new violence. UNHCR staff in Tshikapa, a city some 60 kilometres from the border with Angola, report that several internally displaced people, as well as those who have returned from Angola, have been unable to return to their communities because of inter-ethnic hostility.
In February, the tensions led to the internal displacement of over 11,000 people further north in the region, in Mweka Territory. These are in addition to the approximately 900,000 Congolese who have been internally displaced since the Kasai crisis erupted in 2016.
The Kasai conflict has also forced over 35,000 Congolese to seek refuge in Angola. Since September 2017 some of them have spontaneously returned to DRC – only to find that reaching their former homes is impossible. Many are today living in churches and mosques, while others were forced to move to different provinces.
Support for the returnees to rebuild their houses is often absent, as humanitarian funding does not at present allow for a major rebuilding programme. For 2018, UNHCR has requested US$ 368.7 million to help those affected by the DRC crisis. So far we have received just 1 per cent of this.
Among Congolese refugees in Angola, many say they are unwilling to return to their areas of origin at present, because of the fragile situation. UNHCR also believes that returns are not yet possible in a safe, dignified and sustainable manner, since peace and security are lacking.
UNHCR was therefore deeply concerned to learn a few days ago of the forced return of some 530 Congolese from Angola to the DRC between 25 and 27 February. Among them, 52 were registered refugees living in Dundo town close to the DRC border, and about 480 were unregistered refugees staying at the Cacanda reception centre in Dundo. The returns were carried out despite UNHCR’s requests to the Angolan authorities to undertake joint screening of the unregistered group.
UNHCR urges the Angolan authorities to refrain from further forcible returns of Congolese to their country. Should conditions change, UNHCR stands ready to assist the authorities in DRC and Angola in voluntary repatriation discussions.
KINSHASA, Democratic Republic of Congo, March 4, 2018 – The Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary-General in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Leila Zerrougui, remains gravely concerned by the violence in Djugu territory, Ituri province, that has resulted in the killing of dozens of people since January 2018.
The most recent attack occurred on 1 March 2018 in the village of Maze, in which at least 33 people have been killed.
“I am deeply shocked by this latest attack which has targeted civilians, and that the majority of the victims were women and children. I express my sincere condolences to the families of the victims and those affected by this horrifying act”, said the Head of the United Nations Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO).
“I condemn all kinds of violence and I call on the authorities to swiftly investigate this attack and to ensure that justice if fully served. The perpetrators of these acts must be held to account”, added Mrs. Zerrougui.
The burning of huts, forced displacement and sexual violence directed against women have also been reported in recent weeks in the Ituri province, located in the northern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
In support to the Congolese Government-led efforts to address the deterioration of the security situation, MONUSCO has reinforced its presence in the area with the deployment of three temporary military bases in Djugu, Blukwa and Fataki and increased patrolling in Djugu territory since 10 February 2018. The Mission is also engaging all communities and authorities to prevent future attacks and stabilize the situation in the region.
Again, the investor and mineral licensing powerhouse in the Democratic Republic Congo, Dan Gertler is even more under fire after the revelations of his illicit trade during the recent years. Now, the formula and the amount of cash he gets from the foreign mineral extraction companies are paying for their passage to him. This as the deals between Getler and Kinshasa authorities are left in the dark. Whatever deal they have, certainly Getler is earning fortunes without doing more, than being connected to the Joseph Kabila government.
This report shows important facts and also bring certainties of the assumed fortunes made by Gertler, even as he is sanctioned and his corporations. Clearly, the mineral extraction is profitable in the midst of insecurity and civilian despair in the republic. While the businesses and the affiliates are eating, the public are fleeing militias and the army itself. The state is not serving the public, but the companies and the persons who has secret deals with the government. It is vicious and the international community let them, even as it is sanctioned, the acts are still appearing and has the ability to earn on it.
“Based on a number of assumptions, Resource Matters estimates the royalties to the Gertler-affiliated companies can be expected to amount to about $110 million for 2018 and nearly $100 million for 2019. This means that Gertler risks losing about $270,000 in revenue from Glencore’s operations per day. That is nearly twice as much as the world’s best paid soccer player, Lionel Messi, makes at Barcelona” (Resource Matters, P: 6, 2018).
“Glencore therefore has to balance the risk of increased pressure in Congo versus the risk of ending up on the U.S. sanctions list. This means that the royalty payments constitute a significant risk, whether they stop or continue. Investors should be able to know how Glencore will deal with this going forward. U.K anti-corruption organization Global Witness has repeatedly lamented the opacity of Glencore’s royalty payments to Gertler’s companies and called for better disclosure” (Resource Matters, P: 8, 2018).
“This conclusion was somewhat hasty. Gertler’s gold companies do not explicitly feature on the sanctions list, but that in itself does not matter. Under the U.S. Treasury’s so-called 50%-rule, any company owned at least 50% by a sanctioned entity is considered, per se, sanctioned because it is deemed to be “blocked property” of the sanctioned person. Both Moku Goldmines and Société Minière de Moku-Beverendi are at least 50% owned by Fleurette, a sanctioned entity, and should be considered sanctioned, too. In addition, the fact that no payments are made to Gertler does not shield Randgold from the risk of being sanctioned. The U.S. Treasury could qualify Randgold’s exploration activities at Moku-Beverendi as ‘material support’ to a sanctioned entity and impose sanctions on Randgold” (Resource Matters, P: 9, 2018).
Gertler might be in hot-water and the Kabila government might have decisions to make concerning their alliance. Still, the trades and contracts has been made, if the Kabila government suspend and revoke it, they might have to pay a settlement. While wait for a new company or middle-man to secure a grand deal for the licensing. We can question if the loyalty will be there, as long as the sanctions might hit the companies who works with Gertler. Because, they do not want to lose the profitable and secure delivery of the cobalt and other minerals in the Republic.
Surely, Getler don’t want to miss his winning ways and his double earnings of Messi. He want it and doesn’t care about how. Getler just continue to score and get contracts, which makes his giant fortune. It is by the blessing of his connections in Kinshasa. Peace.
Resource Matters – ‘The Global Magnitsky – Effect How will U.S. sanctions against Israeli billionaire Dan Gertler affect the DR Congo’s extractive sector?” (February 2018).