I’ve always considered myself a fairly good person, with a strong sense of morality based on empathy for the pain and suffering of others. When I learned that my purchases were indirectly encouraging violence in Congo, I was furious and figured others would be as well. Read More »
Congo activism is flourishing on campuses this spring, with many schools signing up to host the RAISE Hope for Congo Speakers Tour and college journalists spontaneously picking up the story. Read More »
The conflict minerals bill in the House of Representatives is steadily picking up supporters. Four more congressmen recently signed on as co-sponsors, showing their support for ending violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo that is in part perpetuated by illicit trade in Congo’s mineral rich eastern region. Read More »
DRC: US, UN accuse forces of "crimes against humanity"
NAIROBI, 12 March 2010 (IRIN) - Government troops - the FARDC - in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) are to blame for much of the epidemic of sexual violence in the east of the country, according to US and UN reports detailing war crimes and possible crimes against humanity by various groups there.
FARDC is trying to rout the Forces démocratiques de libération du Rwanda (FDLR) and the Ugandan Lord's Resistance Army (LRA) from the Kivu region and Oriental province in eastern Congo, but operations have been criticized for their impact on civilians.
“Armed groups such as the LRA and FDLR commit atrocities that amount to grave breaches of international humanitarian law and, in some instances, may also constitute crimes against humanity,” according to the UN experts.
“In North Kivu, an assistance provider for victims of sexual violence recorded 3,106 cases between January and July 2009; half of these cases were perpetrated by FARDC members,” a group of seven UN experts said in their second report on the situation in DRC, submitted to the Security Council on 8 March.
Many of the FARDC troops used to be members of rebel groups who joined the army as part of peace initiatives.
Congo’s resources ransacked for minerals used in high-tech devices
By Emily Sweeney
Globe Staff / March 15, 2010
In the heart of central Africa, an exhausted young man toils at a dangerous job: digging up bits of minerals from the earth. While he earns little for his efforts, soldiers that illegally control the mine reap the profits. The fruits of his labor are smuggled to neighboring countries, sold to multinational companies, and processed into metals that end up in cellphones, computers, and digital cameras.
That is the scenario portrayed by advocacy groups that say the illicit trade of minerals in the Democratic Republic of Congo is fueling violence and human rights abuses.
Many mines are controlled by armed groups that ransack the land’s resources to buy weapons, robbing the country of tax revenues, and creating a situation the United Nations Security Council describes as “the world’s leading example of the financial losses and human suffering caused by illegal trafficking in natural resources.’’
The destruction may be happening more than 6,500 miles away, but it’s closer to home than many people realize, according to the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, a think tank based in Washington, D.C. “Ultimately, our cellphones, laptops, and other consumer electronics have been feeding into this war,’’ said David Sullivan, a researcher with the group.
The road from rural mines to retail store shelves where such electronic devices are sold is long and twisted, and until recently most US consumers knew nothing about it.
That is slowly changing.
Several efforts are underway to shed more light on the supply chain that leads to the cellphone in your pocket and the laptop on your desk.
Getting over the bill over this final hurdle – through the House to the president's desk – is going to require one last concerted activist push to add cosponsors and shore up support from a handful of influential Members of Congress. Read More »
Reports on attacks in the Central African Republic are scarce and often conflicting, creating an impression that the LRA is not very active there. However, during a recent research mission in southern CAR, I found that LRA violence has been persistent and continues to spread westward despite a strong Ugandan army presence there. Read More »