The Times of Tanzania
Eastern Africa News Network, Breaking News Tanzania

United States concerned over minerals supply chains between Rwanda and Eastern DR Congo

The U.S Department of State has issued a Statement of Concern focused on certain minerals supply chains from Rwanda and eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. 

Matthew Miller, the Department Spokesperson clarifies the specific risks associated with manufacturing products using minerals extracted, transported, or exported from eastern DRC, through Rwanda and Uganda.

The office of the Spokesperson notes that the United States remains concerned about the role that the illicit trade and exploitation of certain minerals, including artisanal and semi-industrially mined gold and tantalum, from the African Great Lakes Region continues to play in financing conflict.

“In many cases, these minerals directly or indirectly benefit armed groups and move out of the eastern DRC through Rwanda and also to Uganda before moving to major refining and processing countries,” says the release.

“These supply chains facilitate illicit exploitation and taxation of these minerals, often involving acts of corruption.”

Over time, some companies appear to have eased their focus on meaningful due diligence on mineral supply chains from this region.

The Statement of Concern reflects the U.S. government’s encouragement of greater transparency and identifies due diligence frameworks, such as guidance issued by the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), that suggest the private sector undertake heightened due diligence.

It adds that the United States shares the concerns expressed in the final report of the UN Group of Experts on the Democratic Republic of the Congo and supports its continued investigation into perpetrators of human rights violations and abuses in the DRC. 

“This conflict has left millions exposed to human rights violations and violence, including displacement, deprivation, extrajudicial killings, and conflict-related sexual violence.”

The United States urged all armed groups to cease hostilities and lay down their weapons.

“We call on Rwanda to end its support for M23 immediately and withdraw RDF troops and advanced weaponry from the DRC and call on Congo to immediately cease collaboration of Congolese armed forces (FARDC) elements with FDLR, in violation of the orders of military leadership.”

We also note the report’s evidence of attacks against the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (MONUSCO) and reiterate that such actions are unacceptable.

The United States affirmed position to continue supporting regional diplomatic efforts that promote de-escalation and create the conditions for lasting peace in the DRC and urge all parties to the conflict to adhere to the humanitarian truce. 

“We call on Rwanda and the DR Congo to implement their commitments under the Luanda process, and call on all parties to respect human rights, adhere to applicable obligations under international humanitarian law, and hold accountable all actors for human rights violations and abuses in the conflict in eastern DRC.

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