Extinction Rebellion occupy UK parliament over African conflict

  • Post last modified:February 20, 2024
  • Reading time:6 mins read

What are the dangerous and shadowy links between the UK Government’s Rwanda flights and a heartbreaking war over resources in Africa that is also fuelling the climate crisis and destroying vital ecosystems? Today Extinction Rebellion activists answered that complex question.

Extinction Rebellion: UK funding conflict in Africa via immigration policy

The group staged a protest in the House of Commons pretending to hold guns to their heads and unfurling a banner saying: ‘STOP FUNDING RWANDA WAR IN D.R. CONGO’:

The activists drew public attention to the causes and impacts of a conflict that has raged in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) for over three decades between armed gangs and militias fighting for control of an estimated $24 trillion in natural resources.

Their actions served as a plea for the world to realise that Goma, one of the main cities in eastern DRC, is just days from being captured by a violent militia group.

Fighting for resources

Vast caches of copper, diamonds, tantalum, tin, gold, and more than 63% of global cobalt production are the prize that the gangs use to get rich by selling them to the UK and other rich developed nations to produce mobile phones, computers, batteries and increasingly for renewable energy technologies.

The fighting has displaced more than 10 million people, triggered indiscriminate killings and mass rape, and seen militia armies ransack the country’s rainforests with illegal logging and poaching, damaging the wild places that absorb huge amounts of the carbon dioxide and slow down the climate and ecological emergency.

Dig a little deeper, say the activists, and you discover that one of the worst militias, the M23, committing murder and ecological destruction across huge areas of the DRC, is funded by the Rwandan government – who are in turn receiving funding from the UK government.

Occupying parliament

The protestors read a statement claiming that payments from the UK government, including money from their illegal refugee flights to Rwanda policy, are being used to fund the M23’s campaign of atrocities. They demanded an immediate halt to all UK government payments to Rwanda.

As they staged their action in the House of Commons, the XR activists took inspiration from the DRC soccer team at the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) pointing the fingers of one hand at their heads to represent a gun while covering their mouths with their other hand to show solidarity with persecuted climate groups in their home country:

Extinction Rebellion in parliament

One of the protestors, Dr Karine Nohr from Sheffield, said:

The plan to ship refugees from the UK to Rwanda is an inhumane and abhorrent idea. The fact that money paid by the UK government to Rwanda is funding violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo makes it more acceptable still. Supporting Rwanda means exacerbating the suffering of 10 million war-displaced people in the DRC and means Britain is complicit in the humanitarian crisis currently unfolding. The UK’s role in the atrocities committed in Congo needs to be brought to light, and we demand a stop to this immediately.

Extinction Rebellion: UK exploiting the Global South

In their statement, the activists highlighted how gangs and Western governments reap huge financial benefits from the DRC’s natural resources while the country’s people remain amongst the poorest in the world.

Nohr continuted:

These finite resources must not be exploited at the cost of the most vulnerable, nor squandered as rich countries seek to continue business as usual. A just transition to a better future is sorely needed and human rights must be defended. By indirectly funding the Rwandan backed militia the UK becomes complicit in their warmongering.

Featured image and additional images via Extinction Rebellion

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