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UN Backs Probe into Employee Implicated in Mineral Smuggling

New York, Aug 22 2011 2:10PM

The United Nations peacekeeping force in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) said today it is fully cooperating with the authorities there who are investigating an attempt by a local UN employee to smuggle about one ton of cassiterite ore from the country to neighbouring Rwanda.

Congolese authorities yesterday thwarted the alleged attempt by a member of staff of the UN Stabilization Mission in DRC (MONUSCO) to smuggle the consignment of cassiterite ore when they stopped a UN vehicle at the border crossing in the DRC town of Goma, before it proceeded into Gisenyi in Rwanda.

“MONUSCO is fully cooperating with and supporting the national authorities in the investigation of this incident. The mission has also launched its own investigation into what appears to be a serious breach of its ethics, rules and regulations,” the mission said in a press release.

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for DRC and head of MONUSCO, Roger Meece, stressed that the illegal exploitation and smuggling of natural resources from the DRC are serious crimes and the mission is tasked with preventing them.

He said that allegations that a MONUSCO member of staff is implicated in the illegal activities will be fully investigated and that appropriate action taken in full cooperation with the Congolese authorities.

Illegal exploitation of minerals in eastern DRC has been widely blamed for prolonging conflict and insecurity in Africa’s Great Lakes region.

ENDS

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