Smartphones fuel violence in Congo

Christ the King Theological Seminary in the DRC (ACN)

Users of new technology are unwittingly fuelling violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and exploiting workers, according to leading priests in the country, reports Aid to the Church in Need.

Fr Richard Muembo, rector of Christ the King Seminary, in Malole, in the DRC, said: “Anyone who uses modern technology nowadays is in some way using the blood of the Congolese people. Looters from all over the world come here to exploit the country.”

Speaking in an interview with Aid to the Church in Need, Fr Muembo highlighted accusations of foul play in the extraction of coltan, a black ore made of columbite and tantalite used in the production of batteries for smartphones, computers and GPS devices.

Coltan, which is mined in the DRC, has been described as a "blood ore" amid reports that its extraction involves human rights violations and is used to fund armed groups, helping to fuel conflict.

Fr Apollinaire Cikongo, executive secretary of the Catholic Bishops’ Conference of Kananga in the DRC, said: “It is necessary … to say no to violence, to the industry of death, to the arms factories and the arms trade. Technology should make lives easier, not end lives. We should use it to discuss the hard reality of the Congo, to ask for prayers and international support to uphold life and human rights.”

Fr Cikongo, who is also on the staff at Christ the King Seminary, went on to speak about the recruitment of child soldiers by DRC armed groups: “We have also heard of superstitious rituals. “They recruit children and adolescents, give them a potion and a ritual bath, and let them believe that they cannot be harmed by bullets, that they are immortal. And so they commit barbaric crimes, just as if they were under the influence of drugs.”

Describing the crisis in the DRC, Fr Muembo said: “Schools have been closed, hunger reigns, parts of the population are hiding in the jungle … We dream of an end to this pointless war.”


Users of smartphones support “industry of death” in Africa (Aid to the Church in Need)

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