Journalist Rima Abdelkader wrote a well-informed piece about the role of illicit minerals in fueling the conflict in Congo. I added these comments to her article on the Huffington Post:
While demanding that electronics manufacturers take responsibility for their supply chain is a commendable approach, there are other culprits whose actions contribute more directly to the atrocities in eastern Congo. One is Rwanda, which exports coltan even though it has no known mines within its borders. Paul Kagame’s government says it is working on source accreditation that will show where it gets the mineral and provide the type of supply chain audit demanded by the Enough Project and others (as is the DRC), but so far the promises are mere words. Another pressure point are business interests within the DRC itself. Not every villain in this story is a western multinational conglomerate–much of the illicit revenue from cassiterite, gold, and coltan flows right to Congolese individuals who back the rogue militias (and even units of the FARDC) who control many of the mines. Then there are the leaders of the FDLR, the remnants of the Hutu Interahamwe vilified for their role in ongoing conflict in the Kivus. Those criminals live a life of ease in Germany, France, and Belgium enjoying the profits from the mines their troops control in the Congo.
As attorney and activist Joseph Mbangu pointed out, the fight against violence in the DRC is one that must be fought on many fronts. Dave Donelson, author of Heart of Diamonds a romantic thriller about blood diamonds in the Congo.