In the Democratic Republic of Congo, the balance between peace and violence is unstable. Political discontent quickly turns into armed conflict, often stoked by a desire for economic gain. The Congolese mineral riches propel a cycle of violence in which the local population, rebels and government all strive for and fight each other to gain access to natural resources. These conflict minerals get their value on the Western market and through our consumption behavior: gold and coltan are used in mobile phones, batteries and jewelry. On the black market, militias trade this illegally mined gold for weapons.
A large percentage of the gold that is illegally mined in northeast DRC, is smuggles across the border to Uganda. And currently, that same border is crossed by thousands of people every day, as the Congolese seek refuge in Ugandan refugee camps, from the political violence that once again is keeping DRC in its grasp.
For more about mining in northeast DRC, see our story 'Illegal gold mining in DR Congo'