Global demand for metallic ores used in mobile phones is thwarting efforts to end war and violence in Congo, said an African priest.
Any person who possesses a mobile phone or other electronic device with components derived from such “conflict minerals” is benefiting from bloodshed, said Fr Richard Muembo, rector of a Congolese seminary firebombed earlier this year.
“Anyone who uses modern technology nowadays is in some way using the blood of the Congolese people,” he said in an interview with the United Kingdom branch of Aid to the Church in Need, a pontifical foundation helping persecuted Christians.
“Looters from all over the world come here to exploit the country,” the priest said in a statement by the charity.
Fighting in Congo is being perpetuated by a struggle over access to such ores as coltan, from which niobium and tantalum are extracted, he suggested. The ore is used in the production of batteries for smartphones, computers and GPS devices.
Catholic leaders have worked to end the violence between the government and the criminal gangs and armed groups, which sell the ores to buy arms, only to find themselves the target of attacks.
Picture: Peacekeepers drive past burning tires as they patrol protests against President Joseph Kabila in Kinshasa, Congo, on 10th April. (CNS photo/Robert Carrubba, Reuters).