PRETORIA, South Africa – On Aug. 8, representatives of U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement’s (ICE) Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Pretoria traveled to Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) to complete the transfer of approximately $126,000 in border security equipment, information technology (IT) and capacity building resources in support of DRC’s immigration authorities. An additional $100,000 in police tactical equipment was donated by the U.S. embassy at the request of HSI.
The provided support is the result of coordinated efforts that started in February 2012 when HSI Regional Attaché Abraham Lugo and ICE Enforcement and Removal Operations (ERO) Assistant Attaché David Potvin traveled to Kinshasa as part of a law enforcement assessment team. The objective of this team was to evaluate DRC’s border security capabilities, enforcement capacity, training needs and resources. The assessment sought opportunities to develop partnerships and mutual assistance and specifically targeted land and airport security and enforcement capabilities. Following the assessment, HSI special agents discovered the need for significant support to allow DRC to reach the minimum standards on border security.
"This initiative enhances HSI Pretoria’s close working relationship with DRC enforcement entities and strengthens the cooperation on issues related to repatriation and removal and joint criminal investigations," said HSI Pretoria Attaché Abraham Lugo.
DRC is one of the richest countries in the world in natural resources including gold, uranium and Coltan, a rare mineral commonly used in the technological industry. However, regional armed conflicts, a lack of infrastructure and limited investment in border security enforcement limits the DRC’s ability to capitalize on these vast natural resources.
The assessment conducted by HSI Pretoria provided the justification that allowed U.S. African Command (AFRICOM) representative Mark Godshall to secure $126,000 in AFRICOM funds in support of IT equipment and border police equipment for DRC immigration and for the transportation of an additional $100,000 in police equipment for DRC police as well as the participation of HSI Pretoria in capacity building initiatives in support of DRC’s border security.
The logistical support to DRC was a coordinated effort between AFRICOM, HSI Pretoria, ERO Pretoria, the DRC Embassy in South Africa and the U.S Diplomatic Security Offices in South Africa and Kinshasa.