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Controversy surrounds EU-Rwanda mineral agreement

The European Union’s signing of an agreement on the sustainability and traceability of strategic minerals with Rwanda, a country allegedly obtaining them illegally from a neighboring state, has sparked criticism. “Insieme pace per il Congo” and seven other organizations, including the “Rete Pace per il Congo” Network, are urging the annulment of the protocol agreement signed on February 19th.

The EU emphasizes Rwanda’s role as a “major global player in the tantalum mining sector,” mining tin, tungsten, gold, niobium, lithium, and rare earths. Despite the EU’s commitment to traceability standards, critics argue that Rwanda lacks significant quantities of these minerals and became a major exporter due to wars and clandestine movements, notably the M23.

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Valuable minerals, including gold, coltan, and rare earths, allegedly flow from the east of Congo to Rwanda with complicity at the borders and support from corrupt officials. The critics question the EU’s investment in a country benefiting from theft and violence, proposing sanctions instead of agreements that seem to legitimize the illicit trade in minerals.

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