The FNI militia is accused of carrying out massacres of villagers in DR Congo
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 Panorama they had been prevented from pursuing their inquiries for political reasons.
Gold and ivory
The United Nations Mission in the Democratic Republic of Congo (Monuc) is the global body’s largest, with 17,000 troops spread across the country.
It’s true they did, give us arms. They said it was for the security of the country
The BBC’s Martin Plaut, who returned to DR Congo to follow up his initial investigation into the allegations, 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.
It did, however, identify “an individual who seemed to have facilitated gold smuggling”.