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12 Mai 2016

Holly Dranginis, Foreign Affairs (USA)

Virunga's Charcoal Cartel

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The charcoal cartel is run by the Democratic Forces for the Liberation of Rwanda, or FDLR, Congo’s most prominent nonstate armed group...It is responsible for brutal attacks in remote areas of Congo’s dense jungle...Although the FDLR survives on a range of illicit livelihoods—gold mining, kidnapping for ransoms, and the looting of villages—these days, according to locals and UN peacekeeping officials, charcoal is one of the FDLR’s most lucrative pursuits. It is worth an estimated $35 million a year. But the costs to nature and human life are immeasurable...eams of rebel soldiers worked together to produce charcoal: felling trees and digging pits of roughly eight feet in diameter to bury and burn the wood underground. Some civilians joined willingly; others by force...ecause Virunga has protected status as both a national park and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, though, ndobo is patently illegal...The FDLR presence and rampant poaching has turned Virunga into one of the most dangerous national parks in the world. Over 150 Virunga rangers have been killed in the past ten years by poachers and militia occupying resource-rich territories...“The supply chain for charcoal is smaller [than for minerals], but the profits go somewhere—laundered through companies in Goma and out [of the country],” Daniel Ruiz, the UN official, told me...But even if the illegal charcoal trade in Virunga is purely business, it is a bloody one...Numerous UN annual reports say that the FDLR is responsible for raping women, abducting children, and burning villages.