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Disturbing human rights abuses unearthed in the wake of Congo's mining boom

Excavators and drillers at work in an open pit at Tenke Fungurume, a copper and cobalt mine 110 km (68 miles) northwest of Lubumbashi in Congo's copper-producing south, owned by miner Freeport McMoRan, Lundin Mining and state mining company Gecamines, in a file photo. REUTERS/Jonny Hogg
  • Amnesty International and IBGDH reveal forceful relocation of locals to make way for mining expansion.
  • A 98-page study delves into the impact of four mining projects in the region. 
  • Human rights organizations urge an immediate halt to abuses.

Amnesty International and the Congolese rights organization IBGDH relayed in a 98-page study that populations in and around Kolwezi, a mining town in the southeast of the DRC, had been forcefully relocated or forced into leaving their homes to make room for mine expansions.

"The people living in the region should be benefiting from the growth in mining. Instead, many are being forced out of their homes and farmland," an extract from the report reads.

The paper examined the effects of four mining projects in the region using 133 interviews, documentary data, and satellite images. The research discovered that whole towns had been forced removed, becoming "collateral damage of energy transition mining".

In the vicinity of Kolwezi, on a mining concession owned by the DRC-registered company Chemical of Africa SA, was the town of Mukumbi. According to former inhabitants questioned by researchers, Congolese troops reportedly set fire to the village in November 2016.

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We weren’t able to retrieve anything,” said ex-resident Kanini Maska, 57, as seen in a report by the East African, an East African news publication. “We had nothing to survive on, and spent nights in the forest,” he added.

A similar account was given by another ex-resident named Papy Mpanga, 37. "The eviction destroyed my dreams," he remarked.

Agnes Callamard, secretary general of Amnesty International, said the rights group acknowledged the urgent need to switch to renewable energy sources but urged a stop to abuses. “The people of the DRC experienced significant exploitation and abuse during the colonial and post-colonial era, and their rights are still being sacrificed as the wealth around them is stripped away,” she said.

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