Charcoal trade funds Congo conflict

July 31, 2009 at 8:29 PM
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GOMA, Democratic Republic of Congo, July 31 (UPI) -- Militia groups and some segments of the army in the Democratic Republic of Congo fund the conflict with profits from the charcoal trade, officials said Friday.

"All the armed groups, including the FDLR (Forces democratiques pour la liberation du Rwanda), and some individuals in the army are implicated in the traffic of makala (charcoal)," said Emmanuel de Merode, director of Virunga National Park, IRIN reported. "Illegal trade in makala generates sale of up to $30 million per year. A large proportion of this money goes to the armed groups."

Trucks and bicycles loaded with sacks of charcoal travel the roads leading to Goma, North Kivu Province's main town, coming from Rugari in Rutshuru to the north and Burungu and Kitchanga to the west, IRIN reported.

"The FDLR consider the forest as belonging to them," de Merode said. They either requisition the loggers or impose monthly taxes on each logger.

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