Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - The "3T" - cassiterite ("Tin" in English), wolframite (tungsten), coltan (tantalum) are the main minerals mined in eastern DRC. This comes from reports from the various UN organizations that have been compiling statistics on the subject for years.
"Africa is not a mine to be exploited or plundered," Pope Francis affirmed yesterday, January 31, in the garden of the Palais de la Nation in Kinshasa, during a meeting with the Congolese authorities, civil society and the Diplomatic Corps (see Fides, 31/1/2023). However, Congo has always been seen in this light since the beginning of colonization. The exploitation, which also affected the inhabitants, was already denounced at the time, one among them the American writer Mark Twain.
This exploitation continues today, but in a more subtle and varied form. As the Congolese human rights activist Pierre Kabeza said (see Fides, 26/1/2023) the exploitation of Congolese resources "can be presented as a tree whose roots are the great world powers together with their multinationals. The trunk of the tree are the Neighboring countries of the DRC (Rwanda and Uganda) supported by the great powers, and finally the branches are the various guerrilla groups operating on Congolese territory. The sap that nourishes the tree is the economic interests".
On the ground, there are more than 100 armed groups fighting for control of the three eastern Congolese provinces (North and South Kivu and Ituri) that commit the crimes against the civilian population with the aim of illegally exploiting natural resources. In addition to the mineral resources mentioned above, there are gold, diamonds, cobalt and copper, but also wildlife, coal and timber. The goods are brought to Rwanda, Burundi and Uganda and from there to the international markets.
The military operations of the various rebel groups (but also of the Congolese army) take place along the map of resources in this area. As the latest report from the Peace for Congo Network states, the resurrected March 23 Movement (M23), has among its objectives "that of keeping the 'Little North' of North Kivu, that is, the city of Goma and the territories of Nyiragongo, Rutchuru, Masisi and Walikale, which are very rich in minerals (gold, coltan, cassiterite, cobalt), under the economic, military and political influence of the Rwandan regime". For this reason, the M23 has occupied more than 100 villages in the Rutchuru area in recent weeks; in many of them it has set up an administration parallel to that of the state, appointing new local authorities loyal to it and imposing illegal taxes.
And finally, people are exploited. Often these are underage miners, some between the ages of 14 and 25, who perform high-risk work in dangerous places and under harsh conditions, risking their lives from landslides and disease. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 1/2/2023)
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