Ottawa, June 20 2016– In DR Congo, war war has transformed lifestyle of the population. The legacy of conflict are enormous in communities.
The illegal exploitation of minerals has fueled these conflicts, leaving poverty, looting, rape, violence and destruction of all social structures (schools, hospitals…)
Children were used as soldiers in their own communities, thus abandoning school, women were kidnapped, raped and made very vulnerable to the point of not being useful. After the illegal exploitation by armed group since 1996, Congolese businessmen, civil and military, in turn exploited the natural resources as a source on income.
Taken hostage by poverty and lack of support, they are forced to work in the mining squares to support themselves. At their risk, children spend days in search of minerals to carry and sell at low prices to pay school fees. They don’t want to go school. When the reintegration of former children associated with armed forces and groups is not successful, some young men who have been demobilized and reintegrated into their communities are found in the mining squares. They are then exposed to the re-enrollment by militias and armed groups that are very active in the mining territories.
Woman spend whole days to pound, sort minerals to provide to their families beside the operators but they don’t have access to exercise or to set up a small income-generating businesses, for lack of financial support.
At Shabunda, women are called in different names: “Twangeuses” (In swahili), “Pilluses” (in french) “Haty stones”. They are exposed to sexual exploitation and prostitution. With low income, they are unable to support themselves and provide for the family.
Mineral exploitation is a matter of men, while there are several initiatives to empower them. But the tradition, culture and poverty are sometimes an obstacle to their development.