Catholic Peacebuilding Network

Enhancing the study and practice of Catholic peacebuilding

News Items on Natural Resources, Land, and Armed Conflict

Congo’s Problems Run Deeper than Oil<>
21 November 2014 | Reuters
Save the gorillas and save the Democratic Republic of Congo, urges “Virunga,” a new documentary from Netflix and enviro-mensches Leonardo DiCaprio and Howard Buffett. The film chronicles the machinations of British oil firm Soco International’s exploratory venture in Congo’s Virunga National Park, while park rangers struggle to thwart them. Read More<>

DRC: Oil Dispute Takes a Page From Congo’s Bloody Past<>
15 November 2014 | Jeffrey Gentlemen, New York Times
VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK, Democratic Republic of Congo — The trouble started when a British company suddenly appeared in this iconic and spectacularly beautiful national park, prospecting for oil. Read More<

ASIA/INDONESIA – The Church supports the campaign against mining exploitation in Flores
Flores (Agenzia Fides) – Thousands of priests, religious and laity of all the parishes, secondary school and university students on the island of Flores, the Catholic stronghold in Indonesia, gathered to challenge the mining projects on the island. The awareness campaign against mining exploitation in Flores, which would seriously damage the environment, has been going on for months and found a moment of high visibility on October 13.
As reported by the news service of the Episcopal Conference of Indonesia, consulted by Fides, the local diocese of Ruteng officially reiterated its position contrary to mining projects. The diocese covers an area where almost 700 thousand Catholics live, who make up 93% of the total population. “The Diocese of Ruteng believes that the initiation of mines for the extraction of manganese, gold and iron would cause serious ecological damage and endanger the lives of people in Flores. The mining exploitation will result in a systematic and massive impoverishment of the indigenous population”, with the possible consequence of “triggering social conflict, alter tribal and state laws”. It will also predictably cause, “business companies to hire security teams to intimidate the residents”, reads a document published in 2014 after the Synod of the Diocese of Ruteng. Such dynamics are known and recorded in the neighboring Philippine island of Mindanao.
The event was organized on 13 October by the “Justice and Peace” Commission of the Diocese of Ruteng and was carried out in a completely peaceful manner, with spiritual songs and recitation of the Rosary. The Bishop of Ruteng, His Exc. Mgr. Hubertus Leteng, remarked “the duty to protect the integrity of creation”. The protesters called on the government to block local projects and mining permits. They also ask legislators to enact a clear regulation, in order not to leave foreign companies under the arbitrary management of the environment and life of the island. (PCP-PA) (Agenzia Fides 24/10/2014)

“Gold fever” increases human trafficking and sexual exploitation
23 September 2014

Lima (Agenzia Fides) – “Childhood is a treasure that is worth much more than gold karat” is the title of the campaign promoted by the NGO Anesvad to denounce the reality in which people live in the Peruvian region of Madre de Dios, exploited illegally by criminal organizations which in this mining area involve more than 25% of children and adolescents between 14 and 17 years of age. Many people have migrated to the region, attracted by economic gain derived from the extraction of the mineral which in the last decade has had a huge rise in the price on the international markets and sparked this “gold fever”.
According to the NGO, committed in cooperation projects for development in 18 Countries in the three poorest continents in the world (Africa, Latin America and Asia), the phenomenon of illegal mining has caused havoc in the mining area and has increased labor exploitation, prostitution, sexually transmitted diseases and alcoholism. Without neglecting the increase in pollution and deforestation of the area of the Amazon rainforest of Peru, where it is estimated that over 40,000 hectares have already disappeared. In recent years the population of Madre de Dios has increased by 400%. The campaign, and the web page denounces the systematic violation of human rights and promotes the collection of funds to support prevention programs and health care for the victims. Human trafficking generates a revenue of $ 32 million per year, and is the third most lucrative illegal activity in the world after the sale of arms and drug trafficking. (AP) (Agenzia Fides 23 September 2014)