UN Troops Armed DR Congo Rebels
The UN has covered up claims that its
troops in Democratic Republic of Congo gave arms to militias and
smuggled gold and ivory, the BBC has learned.
The allegations, based on confidential
UN sources, involve Pakistani and Indian troops working as peacekeepers.
The UN investigated some of the claims
in 2007, but said it could not substantiate claims of arms dealing.
UN insiders told the BBC's Panaroma they
had been prevented from pursuing their inquiries for political
Gold and ivory
The UN peacekeeping operation in DR Congo
is the largest in the world, with 17,000 troops, spread across
The BBC's Martin Plaut says they have
managed to bring a measure of stability since they were first
established by the UN in February 2000.
They have also helped disarm the warring
factions, run democratic elections and assisted with reconstruction.
But 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, providing
them with weapons to guard the perimeter of the mines.
- Indian peacekeepers operating around
the town of Goma had direct dealings with the militia responsible
for the Rwandan genocide, now living in eastern DR Congo.
- 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.
The UN looked into the allegations concerning
the Pakistani troops in 2007.
It 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.
The head of the UN peacekeeping operation
in New York Jean-Marie Guehenno declared last year: "The
investigation has found no evidence of gun smuggling.
"But it has identified an individual
who seemed to have facilitated gold smuggling. We have shared
the report with the concerned troop contributing country and I
am confident they will take the required action. And this issue
But returning to eastern DR Congo, the
BBC spoke to several residents of the mining town of Mongbwalu,
who said they had seen the FNI re-armed.
One former militant told our correspondent
he had witnessed seven boxes of ammunition being brought from
the UN camp to the re-supply the FNI during a critical fire-fight.
Two FNI leaders known as "Kung-fu"
and "Dragon", who have been jailed in the capital, Kinshasa,
have stated publicly that they received help from the UN.
The BBC managed to get into the maximum
security jail and both confirmed this.
Kung Fu, whose real name is General Mateso
Ninga, said: "Yes, it's true, they did give us arms. They
said it was for the security of the country. So they said to us
that we would help them take care of the zone."
The FNI has been described by Human Rights
Watch as "some of the most murderous individuals that operate
in eastern Congo".
The ethnic Lendu militia was involved
in the bitter clashes with their Hema rivals in the Ituri district.
UN insiders - close to the investigation - told the BBC they had
been prevented from pursuing their inquiries for political reasons.
The BBC's Martin Plaut says that in short,
the Pakistanis, who are the largest troop contributors to the
UN in the world, were too valuable to alienate.
These are not the only allegations to
have been brought against peacekeepers in DR Congo.
In December 2006, former UN Secretary
General Kofi Annan said Moroccan troops had been involved in widespread
"There have been crimes such as rape,
paedophilia and human trafficking," he said, shortly before