Growing up in South Kivu province of the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, I recall hearing my dad and other family members talking about minerals. When the river flooded in the rainy season, it was common for people to find gold and other valuable minerals on the roads and riverbanks. As a young child, I had no clue of the various resources that we tread upon in our daily farming and other activities and could not imagine that these resources would one day cause me and many other children to become war children, then refugees. Who would have thought that people around the world would soon lust after them in pursuit of the latest technology?
Every time I reflect on the war in my country and the desperate situation of my beloved family and friends in Nyarugusu, I have come to realize how our resources have brought so much pain, struggle, humiliation and loss to me and my people. I just long for that day when the world will realize that their need for more coltan and other resources has led to killings, rape, and abuse of any kind against me and many Congolese.
I am encouraged that Canada seems to advocate for a policy change (the Conflict Minerals Act) that may result in saving many lives in my country. We are honoured to have Mr. Paul Dewar, MP and Foreign Affairs Critic for the Opposition, as our guest blogger next week. Mr. Dewar has introduced the Conflict Minerals Act in parliament and launched an online petition to gather Canadian support for this bill. Many more signatures are needed to convince the government of its relevance and importance to support changes in Congo.
Please feel free to read this brief article on conflict minerals in preparation for our next post.