Why Your Cellphone is Fueling Congo’s War

If you’re like most people, your cellphone is never more than inches away from your body at any time. In fact, if it’s not glued to your ear then it’s attached to your hip, living in your pocket, or lost in your purse. Am I right?

Since you’re well-enough informed by now, you strive to live a more ecofriendly lifestyle, minimizing your carbon footprint and drinking fair-trade coffee. If you’re not yet living green, you’re well on your way. You feel good about the ways which you contribute to the betterment of society. You’ve seen enough movies and read enough articles about Africa to feel outraged by the violence. But did you know that your most recent electronics purchase might be financing the ruthless violence in DRCongo?

congo guard gun

photo credit: j. hubbard

Right now, DRC is touted as the World Capital of Rape, the most dangerous place on earth for women and girls. Rape has become a new weapon of warfare among the familiar and endless scene of brutality. Congo’s conflict is based upon extortion; their political system based on theft (a.k.a. “cleptocracy”). For decades, global ignorance has helped this illicit economy thrive. The overall struggle is rooted in the country’s vast supply of natural resources. It’s about controlling and profiting from the extraction of minerals including tin, tungsten, tantalum, and gold.

How are you contributing to this violence? Well, these minerals are found in the technology you’re using every day: cell phones, laptops, mp3 players, DVRs, even jewelry. The minerals are extracted from mines in my region, just a few kilometers from where I live. Armed groups controlling the mines use terror and rape as a means of ensuring cheap civilian labor for the extraction of these minerals. There is no denying the link between the raging violence in eastern DRC and the multimillion-dollar trade of conflict minerals. Foreign governments and international businesses are perpetuating the corruption by purchasing minerals from this deadly supply chain.

So, what can you to do?

  1. Become informed. Educate yourself and others about the atrocities happening in Congo. Learn more about the minerals and find out which companies are involved.
  2. Demand conflict-free electronics and jewelry. Endorse the Conflict Minerals Pledge. Urge electronics companies to do the same. Visit www.raisehopeforcongo.org/special-page/conflict-minerals to read the pledge and send your emails now.
  3. Don’t buy electronics you don’t need. The constant demand for new electronics only increases the amount of conflict minerals bought and sold. Recycle your old electronics to minimize the need for new mining.
  4. Contact your Representative and Senator. There are two bills before Congress which would help regulate this industry and prevent armed groups from benefiting from conflict minerals. Writing to your Congressman or Congresswoman is easy and effective. (Click on this link and Send an email to your Representatives regarding the Conflict Minerals Trade Act.)
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2 responses to “Why Your Cellphone is Fueling Congo’s War

  1. I. Had. No. Clue.
    Thank you for educating me.

  2. Alicia-Marie Christensen

    Check this out!
    http://blogs.intel.com/csr/2010/05/intels_statement_on_conflict_m.php

    Make a statement…help Intel to make the right decisions and leave the bill as is!

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