Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Humanitarian Aid Linked to Illicit Arms, Cocaine, Other Trafficking

Air cargo companies involved in illicit or destabilizing arms transfers to African conflict zones have also been repeatedly contracted to deliver humanitarian aid and support peacekeeping operations, according to a report released today by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI).

The report reveals that 90 per cent of the air cargo companies identified in arms trafficking-related reports have also been used by major UN agencies, EU and NATO member states, defence contractors and some of the world’s leading NGOs to transport humanitarian aid, peacekeepers and peacekeeping equipment. In some cases, air cargo companies are delivering both aid and weapons to the same conflict zones.

Entitled ‘Air Transport and Destabilizing Commodity Flows’, the report shows how air cargo carriers involved in humanitarian aid and peacekeeping operations have also transported a range of other conflict-sensitive goods such as cocaine, diamonds, coltan and other precious minerals.

According to the Executive Summary:
Transportation represents the `choke point' for destabilizing or illicit commodity flows. Air and maritime transport actors are far easier to trace than arms brokers, drug cartels or resource smugglers as the former must legitimately register their aircraft, vessels and associated companies. As such, transporters are the only non-state actors involved in destabilizing or illicit commodity flows required to operate overtly. This characteristic makes them possible to track via databases, flight and maritime records and field research and subject to control.

The full report is here.

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