Help Put an End to War in the Congo
Elizabeth Grden, Class of 2012
October 28, 2011
Filed under Quill
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has seen over fifteen years of war and violence. More than five million have died since 1998, and millions more have been displaced. Rape is the weapon of choice.
And yet the Congo is a beautiful country, with a vast cultural wealth, 240 dialects, nine bordering countries and a land rich in natural resources.
It is these natural resources, however, that have fueled one of the most deadly wars in modern history. You may have heard of conflict-minerals by now. What you may not know is that there is a good chance you have one in your pocket, your purse, or your backpack.
We are unknowingly sponsoring a war halfway around the world.
How can this be? The Congo produces 70% of the world’s coltan, which is used in cell phones, DVD players, video games and computers. Much of this is smuggled out of the country illegally. These minerals are the means of war.
Last year, the Student Association General Assembly (SAGA) passed a resolution to make the campus conflict-mineral free. This is a great first step, but you don’t need to wait to make a difference.
Push for a legitimate supply chain. Ask companies if they verify the origins of their minerals. RaiseHopeforCongo.com provides a list of countries that have taken steps towards transparency and those that have not. Think your blackberry is safe? Think again.
Write to your congressmen. Ask President Obama to appoint a special envoy to the region. Support foreign aid to the Congo, which is a miniscule part of the United States budget to begin with. Advocate, raise awareness, and know that no change is too small.
Fifty-five percent of the Congo is Catholic. Here at The Catholic University of America, we are deeply connected to a group of people who need our help. It is our duty to stay involved and stay aware.
Last night, Bishop Djomo and Sister Alima shared with students just how difficult the situation is in the Congo—but also that there is great cause for hope. After 42 years of dictatorship, the country had their first elections in 2006. The next elections are scheduled for this November. In a country four times the size of Texas, with three times the population, this is not easy.
There is reason for hope. There is reason to believe that one day, violence will cease. There is reason to think that the Congolese people will not always have to live in fear. That reason is us. We have the resources to make dreams of peace a reality. We have the money and the influence to make that happen. We as individuals, we as a university, we as a country can help achieve peace in the Congo.