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UNEP: 40 percent of internal conflicts linked
to exploitation of natural resources

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) said Monday that over the last 60 years, 40 percent of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources.

Monday marks the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict.

The UNEP said that conflict has led to the pollution of water, torching of crops and vegetation, cutting down forests and poisoning of soils. It has also resulted into the killing of animals as a way to earn military advantage. Such destruction not only drives many of the earth’s species into extinction, it also destabilizes the climate.

In countries like the Democratic Republic of Congo, high-value resources such as minerals have caused conflict by being a source of funds for armed groups and by compounding poverty levels in communities in the country and around the region.

The same can be said of Sierra Leone, where diamond and other minerals fuelled conflict. According to the UNEP, this war caused or aggravated many environmental problems.

To mark the International Day, which aims to prevent the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources from fueling conflict or threatening peace, the UNEP has teamed up with some U.S. universities to develop an online course on Environmental Security and Sustaining Peace, said Farhan Haq, Deputy Spokesman for Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, at the daily briefing.

“The course is based on the experiences and lessons learned of over 1,000 experts and 10 UN agencies,” he said.

In November 2001, the UN General Assembly declared November 6 as the International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict. It acknowledged the role of conflict and war in the degradation and exploitation of the environment and sought to create awareness about it.


70,000 people displaced by new violence in DR Congo: UN report

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (UNHCR) reported Tuesday that a recent mission in Tanganyika in southeast of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) found more than 70,000 displaced people by renewed violence.

Priority needs include food security, health, education, shelter and protection, the report said.

“Humanitarian assistance to this area has been limited. Underfunding has had a significant impact on the delivery of humanitarian assistance in the DRC this year as the Humanitarian Response Plan is only 42 percent funded and on track to be the lowest level in a decade,” the report added.

Across the DRC, more than 1.5 million people have been forced to flee their homes this year, bringing the total number of internally displaced people to 3.9 million, the largest number of any country on the African continent. Across the country, more than 8.5 million people need humanitarian assistance.

UNHCR is increasingly concerned by escalating displacement in several key regions of the DRC. With widespread militia activities, unrest and violence affecting many areas, the risk of further displacement is high, the report said.


Security Council underscores need to bring killers of UN experts in DRC to justice

UNITED NATIONS New York (Xinhua) -- Reiterating the need to bring to justice the killers of two UN experts in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), the Security Council on Tuesday urged the country’s authorities to continue cooperating with investigations into the incident.

The experts, Michael Sharp of the United States and Zaida Catalan of Sweden, were abducted in DRC on March 12. Their remains were found outside the city of Kananga in the DRC’s Kasai-Central province by UN peacekeepers two weeks later.

In a statement read out by Ambassador Sebastiano Cardi of Italy, which holds the Council’s presidency for November, the 15-member body also encouraged the Group of Experts, of which Sharp and Catalan were members, to consider issues related to illicit financial activity, including money laundering operations, supporting the activities of armed groups and criminal networks involved in destabilizing activities in the African nation.

Also in the statement, the Security Council warned against attacks on the UN Mission in the country, UN entities, and their associated personnel, including the Group of Experts, and reiterated its readiness to designate individuals and groups responsible for attacks for sanctions.


Zambia and DRC hold talks to enhance bilateral ties

LUSAKA Zambia (Xinhua) -- Zambia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) on Tuesday pledged commitment to continue promoting bilateral ties which have existed over the years.

Zambia’s Minister of Foreign Affairs Harry Kalaba, in remarks delivered after he held private talks with visiting DRC Minister of foreign affairs and regional integration in charge of Congolese from abroad Emmanuel Ilunga Ngoie Kasongo, said the two countries have enjoyed brotherly relationship over the years as they shared the longest border between them.

He said the ties between the two countries were so tight that anything that affects either of the two countries affects the other as well.

According to the Zambian minister, the two ministers discussed, among other things the need to waive visa requirements in order to ease the movement of people and goods.

He further said the two countries discussed the influx of DRC asylum seekers who were being kept at Kenani Transit Center in Nchelenge district in Luapula province, with the Zambian minister saying the government was concerned with the political instability in the DRC.

DRC, he said, was Zambia’s biggest trading partner in the Southern African Development Community (SADC) and that any instability in that country affects trade between the two countries.

For his part, the DRC minister thanked Zambia for being an all-weather partner and pledged his government’s commitment to ensure that the cooperation was enhanced.



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