The control over so-called conflict minerals runs like a red thread through the Congolese unrest. Tungsten, tin, tantalum and gold are used in everything from airplane parts to mobile phones. A large share of these minerals originate in Congo, a nation also rich in natural resources such as diamonds, uranium, natural gas, oil and rare species of trees. Due to the high value of conflict minerals, insurgent groups and military leaders have long used tactics such as slavery, rape, murder and theft to gain control over these. Millions of dollars end up in their hands when these goods are sold on the international market, where they, among other things, end up as part of our electrical goods.The UN estimates that Congo has untouched mineral reserves worth 24 trillion (24 billion billion) dollar.
«Since the end of the 1990s, military forces, insurgent groups and armies plundered these riches. This has led to a series of wars which have caused more fatalities than any other conflict since Second World War, » explains film maker Mike Ramsdell, who is behind the current Congo-documentary
«The deaths are not due to bombs or drone-attacks. When someone is killed in Congo, it is because someone has decided to do it. This choice has been made more than five million times in 17 years, » he says. «Looking at the situation superficially gives the impression that ‘Africans are killing each other.’ But the reality is that the conflict is maintained by the West, who has profited from it. The Congolese have lived under dictators supported by Western nations. When I understood how much the West is to blame for what has happened, this became an important story for me to tell, » explains Ramsdell as the reasoning behind the film. The biggest impression left on Ramsdell was the Congolese frustration over the never-ending wars and meaninglessness. The UN’s largest ground forces are present here, but have done very little to limit the violence, he feels: «I was in a refugee camp for the internally displaced, which did not have clean water but masses of medicines. Nobody contributed any oil to get the well started, and without food and water lining their stomachs, medicines would only make them sicker. » Whilst speaking with people who watched their children die and were themselves starving to death, a UN-helicopter started to circle above. Every time a helicopter is despatched, it costs several thousands of dollars. An amount that would have secured food and water for the camp for a month. «This provoked an enormous anger within the people. They are starving to death in their own country, and Western countries are flying above them in helicopters claiming to help, » says Ramsdell.
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