AFRICA/DR CONGO - "The mineral resources make our country a paradise, but the people live in hell"

Thursday, 26 January 2023 wars  

Kinshasa (Agenzia Fides) -"When will there be peace in the Congo?" asked Pierre Kabeza at the beginning of a press conference held in Rome yesterday, January 25th.
Pierre Kabeza describes the background of the situation in the Democratic Republic of Congo with a picturesque comparison: "You cannot see the roots of a tree. In our case, the roots are the great powers of the world and their multinational companies. The trunk of the tree are the neighboring countries of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (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 economic interests," said the former Congolese trade unionist who is particularly interested in campaigns for the rights of Congolese children and was chairman of youth organizations in the South Kivu region in the east of the country.
On the occasion of Pope Francis' visit to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 107 Italian charities and organizations, many of which have an active presence in the African country, wrote a letter to Pope Francis to draw public attention to the war in the three Congolese provinces of Northern and South Kivu and Ituri. In their letter, they ask that the cry of the Congolese people be heard, pointing out the "structural causes" and the political and economic responsibility of Western countries, which appropriate with impunity the country's natural resources, markets and human resources.
"Structural causes" include the region's vast mineral resources, particularly coltan and cobalt (but also some of the so-called "rare earth elements"), minerals that are becoming increasingly strategic in view of the so-called "energy transition".
"These mineral resources make my homeland a paradise, while the population lives in a real hell," affirms the Italian-Congolese human rights activist John Mpaliza, who recalls that "the Democratic Republic of the Congo is a strategic country for the world", not only because of its mineral resources, but also because of its geographical location in the center of Africa and because it has the second largest rainforest, the "green lungs of the planet".
Hope comes from the many committed young people in the Democratic Republic of Congo represented at the press conference by Micheline Mwendike. She recalls that in the African country there are people "who fight every day for free elections, roads, wages and security". But "we have the impression that the world prefers to leave us in chaos because that is the only way they take minerals from us for free. They don't pay us for the CO2 that the Congolese equatorial forest absorbs. Nevertheless, we keep fighting to improve the situation".
"The new African generations are aware of this situation. I hope that young Africans and Europeans will join forces and help to change this," emphasizes John Mpaliza.
Father Giovanni Piumatti, who has been living and working as a Fidei Donum missionary of the Italian Diocese of Pinerolo in Kivu for more than 50 years, recalled the drama of the child soldiers recruited by the various guerrilla groups present, stressing that "in recent years we have had hundreds of young people who want to leave their weapons, but there is no structure capable of taking them in" and then reintegrating them into society. (L.M.) (Agenzia Fides, 26/1/2023)