House of Commons lobby targeted by Extinction Rebellion to protest against UK's role in violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo - Extinction Rebellion UK

House of Commons lobby targeted by Extinction Rebellion to protest against UK’s role in violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo

Phone: XRUK Press Office +44 (0)775 6136 396 


‘The deadly links between war, resource robbery and climate breakdown’

Extinction Rebellion’s House of Commons protest reveals the UK government’s role in exploitation and violence around resources in Africa

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 as they 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. (1)

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. (2)

Vast caches of copper, diamonds, tantalum, tin, gold, and more than 63% of global cobalt production (3) 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. (4)

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. (5)

The protestors read a statement claiming that payments from the UK government, including money from their illegal refugee flights to Rwanda policy (6), are being used to fund the M23’s campaign of atrocities. They demanded an immediate halt to all UK government payments to Rwanda.

Protesters from Extinction Rebellion UK stood together with Congolese activists outside the Houses of Parliament to demand the UK government stop funding the atrocities happening in easter D.R Congo. Photography: Jonathon Vines

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)[k][l]  (7) 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.

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 unacceptable 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.”

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. (8)

Nohr continued: “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.” (9)

Notes to Editors

[1]. Democratic Republic of Congo’s long list of mineral wealth the entire world wants a piece of: ‘Armed conflict, insecurity, and mining in eastern DRC’, The International Peace Information Service (IPIS), November 2023:  

[2]. ‘DR Congo violence: Panic in Goma as M23 rebels advance’, BBC, 11 February 2024: 

[3]. A quick lesson on minerals in your tec: Enough Project, 2009, Mine to Mobile Phone: 

[4]. Rwanda linked to financing M23 who are responsible for killings and mass rapes: 

[5]. The UK government has paid a total of £240 million to Rwanda; £140 million was sent in April 2022, £20 million to support initial setup costs for the relocation of individuals, £120 million to fund Rwanda’s economic development followed by another payment of £100 million sent in April 2023.  The total costs are as yet unknown:
‘UK paid Rwanda an extra £100m for asylum deal’, BBC, 08 December 2023: 

[6] ‘Supreme Court rules Rwanda asylum policy unlawful’, BBC, 15 November 2023: 

[7) DR Congo squad protest for peace in their country before their Afcon semi-final, The Guardian. 08 February 2024: 

[8]. DRC ranks 164 out of 174 countries on the 2020 Human Capital Index. in 2018,  over 70% of Congolese, about 60 million people, lived on less than $1.90 a day:,the%20SSA%20average%20of%200.4.

[9] UK’s asylum policy and Rwanda’s M23 involvement: a troubling contradiction:

Current situation in Democratic Republic of Congo, updates from activist on the ground:

These are updates from ordinary citizens in Goma, eastern Democratic Republic of Congo. For their safety, they remain anonymous, but are members of Extinction Rebellion DR Congo.

  • Update (12 February 2024) from Extinction Rebellion Goma:

“The situation is deteriorating further. We’re waiting to see how the situation develops in the morning.”

About Extinction Rebellion

Extinction Rebellion (XR) is a decentralised, international and politically non-partisan movement using non-violent direct action and civil disobedience to persuade governments to act justly on the Climate and Ecological Emergency.

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Time has almost entirely run out to address the climate and ecological crisis which is upon us, including the sixth mass species extinction, global pollution, and increasingly rapid climate change. If urgent and radical action isn’t taken, we’re heading towards 4˚C warming, leading to societal collapse and mass loss of life. The younger generation, racially marginalised communities and the Global South are on the front-line. No-one will escape the devastating impacts.

Related topics

africa climate justice conflict Democratic Republic of Congo global justice Global Justice is Climate Justice

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