Rwanda – involvement in Congo DRC

7 May 2024: We are hearing a lot about Rwanda in the news – mainly about whether it is a safe place to send asylum seekers. However, another aspect of Rwanda gets little attention – its involvement in Congo (DRC).

In Eastern Congo, bordering on Rwanda, in the provinces of Ituri and North and South Kivu, are lands rich in minerals, and armed militia terrorise the local population, killing men, women and children and driving them from their homes, so that they can mine illegally and steal the minerals in which the DRC is so rich. The armed group causing most concern at present is M23, which controls substantial amounts of territory in East Congo. It is backed by Rwanda, and exports minerals to Rwanda, where they are often re-labelled as having been sourced in Rwanda, which is not rich in minerals. The government of the DRC is currently threatening legal action against Apple for using minerals that are illegally sourced in this way.

Paul Kagame, the president of Rwanda, denies that Rwanda is supporting M23. However, he is alone in this – the United Nations and the United States call on Rwanda to stop its support for M23. But the sincerity of these calls can be questioned, as they are not accompanied by any pressure. In particular, Rwanda receives massive amounts of foreign aid, which form a high proportion of its national income. Unless countries are willing to cut off aid until Rwanda ceases its murderous activities in DRC, little will change.

Countries such as the US that host international companies such as Apple need to use legal processes to stop them from using illegally mined minerals, obtained at the cost of many Congolese lives. The minerals are used in many devices including computers, electrical vehicles and mobile phones. President Tshisekedi of Congo (DRC) says that our telephones contain the blood of Congolese people.

The problems started 30 years ago, when the DRC was asked by the international community to accept those fleeing the genocide in Rwanda. However, among these refugees were armed perpetrators of the genocide. Rwanda was given the right to pursue them into the DRC, but massacred many Congolese as well as Rwandans, and saw the possibilities of stealing the minerals of DRC, and it continues to exploit these opportunities to this day. Millions of people have been displaced, and this process continues. Governance in the DRC is very weak, and corruption widespread.  The leaders of the DRC were complicit in allowing Rwanda to get its hands on DRC minerals, and the Congolese army was so disorganised that it could do little.

President Tshisekedi of DRC refuses to meet M23, as he says they are an empty shell created by Rwanda to justify its aggression against the DRC.

At present, minerals are extracted from the DRC and processed abroad. President Tshisekedi looks forward to a time when companies such as Apple deal directly with the DRC, and the people of Congo are at last able to benefit from their minerals. We can only hope that efforts now being made by the DRC government will bear fruit. Tshisekedi is appalled at the EU/Rwanda Memorandum of Understanding about the sourcing of minerals, agreed this February. He says it is scandalous and disgusting, a reward for war and pillage.

We should not forget the suffering of the people of Congo, when we think about the fate of asylum seekers who may be deported to Rwanda.

Elizabeth Coleman,

Eccles Local Quaker Meeting

Co-ordinator of Conflict Minerals Campaign – “Let the people of Congo (DRC) benefit from their mineral wealth.”


Interview with President Tshisekedi saying that Kagame is a criminal – this can be seen here: President of the DRC on business relations with the West, peace efforts with Rwanda | DW News:

a listedlso on the ‘Conflict Minerals Campaign’ Facebook page here:   

See also:

February 2024: US condemns Rwandan support for M23 rebels in DR Congo – DW – 02/18/2024

August 2022: UN experts: Rwandan forces operate with M23 rebels in Congo | AP News