AFRICA/DR CONGO - Cardinal Ambongo: "Sustainable" mining agreement between Rwanda and the EU focuses on resources plundered in our Country"

Tuesday, 27 February 2024

United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo via the United Nations Group of Experts on the Democratic Re

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) - "The European Union signs an agreement with Rwanda for sustainable cooperation in the mining sector because of the plundered resources in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Isn't this to be understood as support for the aggressor?" asks the Archbishop of Kinshasa, Cardinal Fridolin Ambongo Besungu, in his homily on Saturday, February 24, during the Mass in memory of the victims of the war in the east of the Democratic Republic of Congo and for peace in the country. "Isn't this a biased assessment of two similar things, carried out according to different rules? [...] Denouncing the aggressor without stopping the cycle of aggression and financing the war through such agreements is a diversionary strategy," he emphasizes . The agreement mentioned by Cardinal Ambongo was signed between the EU and Rwanda on February 19 and is aimed, according to the Brussels institutions, at promoting the "sustainable" exploitation of minerals by Rwanda. The EU points out that "the country is a major global player in tantalum mining. It also mines tin, tungsten, gold and niobium and has reserves of lithium and rare earths." For the EU, this strategic partnership will help ensure "a sustainable raw materials supply chain", particularly with regard to the supply of critical raw materials, "which is an essential prerequisite for achieving green and clean energy goals". The Democratic Republic of Congo, on the other hand, claims that these minerals are being illegally plundered on its territory with the complicity of armed groups financed by Rwanda, in particular the M23, the guerrilla movement operating in North Kivu, which has been besieging Sake, a small town, since the beginning of February which lies about 20 km west of Goma and is considered a strategic obstacle on the way to the capital of this province in the east of the DRC. According to UNICEF and the World Food Program, the fighting threatens to lead to a “humanitarian catastrophe.” "Aggressors and multinational corporations are teaming up to gain control of Congo's wealth, to the detriment and disregard of the dignity of the peaceful Congolese citizens, created in the image and likeness of God," emphasizes Cardinal Ambongo. "How far will this contempt go? How far will the trivialization of human life go, even if it is sacred? I am convinced that in order to bring peace to the Democratic Republic of Congo, it is also necessary to stop violating the territorial integrity of our country and to put an end to the shameless overexploitation of its natural resources." After midday prayers on Sunday, February 25, Pope Francis recalled the suffering of the Congolese people with these words: "It is with concern that I am following the increase in violence in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of the Congo. I join the bishops' call to pray for peace, hoping that the clashes may cease and that a sincere and constructive dialogue may be sought".
According to UN reports, Rwandan forces are directly involved in the fighting, supporting the M23 guerrillas in the fight against the Congolese army, which in turn is supported by local militias and Southern African Development Community (SADC) troops. Only on February 14, two South African SADC soldiers were killed in the bombing of their barracks (see Fides 15/2/2024). The Rwandan military is reportedly using heavy and sophisticated weapons, such as armed drones (which were used to bomb Goma airport) and, according to the UN report released on January 3, even laser-guided mortar bombs, which are likely Israeli-made. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 27/2/2004)