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DR Congo Queries Apple over ‘Blood Minerals’

International legal representatives acting on behalf of the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have sent a letter to Apple CEO Tim Cook seeking clarification on the sourcing of minerals utilized in the production of the company’s devices.

Expressing concerns about the possibility of Apple’s supply chain being linked to conflict minerals sourced through unethical mining practices in the DRC, the legal team, led by Robert Amsterdam in Washington DC and William Bourdon in Paris, also reached out to Apple subsidiaries in France, requesting a response within a three-week timeframe.

Their inquiry follows a report from the Amsterdam law firm that implicates Rwanda and private entities in the laundering of 3T and other conflict minerals from the Congo.

As the primary producer of copper, cobalt (a crucial component in electric batteries), and tantalum globally, the DRC’s mineral wealth is predominantly situated in eastern Congo, an area plagued by the presence of over 120 armed groups vying for control of the region’s resources, often resorting to violence and atrocities.

This situation has led to one of the most significant humanitarian crises worldwide, with approximately 7 million people displaced, many of whom lack access to essential aid. Ramesh Rajasingham, the director of coordination at the United Nations humanitarian office, described the dire conditions he witnessed in Goma, where numerous displaced individuals sought refuge, emphasizing the unprecedented scale of displacement.

Amid escalating conflicts involving security forces, the M23 rebel group, a prominent faction in the region with alleged ties to Rwanda, has been a focal point. The group gained prominence a decade ago by capturing Goma, the largest city in eastern Congo on the Rwandan border, citing the non-implementation of a peace agreement signed on March 23, 2009, as a grievance against the Congolese government.

President Felix Tshisekedi of the DRC has accused Rwanda of destabilizing Congo by supporting the M23 rebels, a claim that U.N. experts have substantiated by linking the rebels to Rwandan forces, although Rwanda denies these allegations.

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