Conflict minerals – Democratic Republic of the Congo

Conflict in the Democratic Republic of Congo

In January 2008, the International Rescue Committee (IRC) reported that almost five and a half million people have died as a result of conflict in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1998. Millions more have been displaced from their homes.

The impact on women and girls

The conflict has had a particularly disastrous impact on women and girls, some 500,000 of whom have suffered sexual violence. Children have been and are used as soldiers.The IRC report calls the conflict “the world’s deadliest crisis since World War II.”

Minerals contribute to the conflict

Raise Hope for Congo reminds us that:

"For more than a century, the Democratic Republic of the Congo has been plagued by regional conflict and a deadly scramble for its vast natural resources. In fact, greed for Congo’s natural resources has been a principal driver of atrocities and conflict throughout Congo’s tortured history. In eastern Congo today, these mineral resources are financing multiple armed groups, many of whom use mass rape as a deliberate strategy to intimidate and control local populations, thereby securing control of mines, trading routes, and other strategic areas."

Raise Hope for Congo goes on to say that a multi-million dollar trade in minerals fuels the conflict in eastern Congo:

"Profit from the mineral trade is one of the main motives for armed groups on all sides of the conflict in eastern Congo – the deadliest since World War II. Armed groups earn hundreds of millions of dollars per year by trading four main minerals: the ores that produce tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold. This money enables the militias to purchase large numbers of weapons and continue their campaign of brutal violence against civilians, with some of the worst abuses occurring in mining areas. The majority of these minerals eventually wind up in electronic devices such as cell phones, portable music players, and computers. Given the lack of a transparent minerals supply chain, American consumers have no way to ensure that their purchases are not financing armed groups that regularly commit atrocities, including mass rape."

What to do?

Raise Hope for Congo provides suggestions for actions to address the trade in conflict minerals that fuel the conflict in eastern Congo.

Presbyterians have been in ministry with the people of the Democratic Republic of the Congo for over 100 years. This post draws heavily on the work of the Office of Public Witness.

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