Congolese violence is highlighted in refugees' campaign

Bradford Telegraph and Argus: Ben Mussanzi, Bradford Congo Campaign co-founder Ben Mussanzi, Bradford Congo Campaign co-founder

The continued struggle of two Congolese refugees living in Bradford to fight atrocities at home has secured the attention of Foreign Secretary William Hague.

Ben Mussanzi and wife Kongosi, both 60, of Undercliffe, are leading a campaign to end murder and sexual violence in the Democratic Republic of the Congo as a result of mining.

A coalition of groups such as Sharing Voices, Bradford Rape Crisis and the Bradford Congo Campaign (BCC) of which Mr Mussanzi is co-founder, sent thousands of postcards to Mr Hague.

The postcard entitled ‘Blood In Your Phone’ reads: “The mobile phone in your pocket probably uses components manufactured with illegally-sourced minerals from DR Congo.

“UK taxpayers’ money supports a war where more than six million Congolese have died and more than a million women have been raped.”

The campaign has provoked a response from Mr Hague’s office acknowledging that not enough was being done.

In light of a G8 declaration on preventing sexual violence in conflict, the campaign sought to address the illegal mining of Coltran in Mr Mussanzi’s home soil.

Coltran is a mineral found in the DRC along with diamonds, copper, and uranium and more than 80 per cent of it is used in mobile phones, laptops and medical equipment.

In reply to Mr Mussanzi on behalf of Mr Hague, Ian Kerr, of the Foreign Office Central Africa Team Africa Directorate, wrote: “We agree that the people of eastern DRC have suffered too much for too long.

“We are doing all we can to support work which addresses the underlying causes of the conflict in the region by working closely with our local, regional and international partners.

“Peace in eastern DRC will only be achieved if all sides play a positive role in resolving the conflict and seeking stability in the region.”

Mr Mussanzi has immersed himself in many interlinking Bradford projects such his part-time involvement at Bradford Community Radio (BCB) and his direction of the Crisis Resolution Centre.

He said: “Our aim is to raise awareness of our citizens that these gadgets we are enjoying are at the expense of the blood of other people from other places in the globe.

“We need our young people who buy these gadgets every year to realise.”

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