The mining of cobalt and copper in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) leads to “serious human rights violations”, according to Amnesty International. In a report, the organization describes how residents are forced to leave their homes to make way for mines. This would be accompanied by threats, deception and even sexual violence.
Cobalt is an important raw material for batteries in mobile phones and electric cars, among others. Congo has the largest cobalt reserves in the world. Due to the growing demand for these products, the mines in the country are being expanded rapidly.
For the report, the researchers spoke to more than 130 people who live near various mining projects. Residents tell how they only found out their homes would be demolished when they found red crosses on their buildings.
In another project, houses were burned down by soldiers, with residents who intervened being abused. The mining company involved denies involvement in the destruction.
Amnesty also spoke to farmers who saw their fields suddenly occupied by soldiers. The crops were then destroyed with bulldozers to make way for mining.
A woman says she was raped by three soldiers as she tried to save her crops. Here too, the company involved says it has no control over the deployment of soldiers.
Amnesty calls on Congolese authorities to immediately stop forced evictions and urges the companies involved to ensure their activities do not harm local communities.
“The people of the DRC have been exploited and abused during the colonial and post-colonial periods, and their rights continue to be sacrificed while the wealth around them is stripped away,” said Agnès Callamard of Amnesty International.
In 2019 it became clear that child labor, corruption and life-threatening situations are daily practice in the extraction of cobalt. Due to the great poverty in the country, people often have no choice where they work.
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