DRC loses key mining town Rubaya to M23 rebels

Rwanda-backed M23 rebels took control of Rubaya, the main town at the heart of an area rich with mines of coltan, a key smart phone ingredient.

The rebel group said it took the strategic town after clashes with DRC government forces, which ensued heavy losses in recent months.

Coltan was among the rare metals included in a letter in which the Congolese government accused Apple of dealing with rebels in the “blood minerals” case.

DRC lawyers called the minerals allegedly illegally acquired by Apple- such as tin, tantalum, tungsten, and gold- as “tainted with blood” of the Congolese people.

The area occupation by the rebels comes only weeks after the EU signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Rwanda, aiming to nurture sustainable development and resilient value chains for critical raw materials across Africa. The DRC’s formal notice to Apple could now exert pressure on the European Commission to review its plans. The deal was immediately criticized by the Congolese President, Felix Tshisekedi, who denounced it as “a provocation in very bad taste.” He also alleged Rwanda was plundering Congo’s mineral resources, and slammed the neighboring country for exporting wealth that it does not have.

The DRC’s mineral-rich Great Lakes region has been wracked by violence since regional wars in the 1990s, with tensions reheating in late 2021 when March 23 Movement (M23) rebels began recapturing swathes of territory.

The DRC, the UN and Western countries accuse Rwanda of supporting rebel groups, including M23, in a bid to control the region’s vast mineral resources, an allegation Kigali denies.

About Geraldine Boechat 2711 Articles
Senior Editor for Medafrica Times and former journalist for Swiss National Television. former NGO team leader in Burundi and Somalia