The conflict in eastern Congo, the deadliest in the world since World War II, is being fueled by a multi-million dollar trade in minerals that go into our electronic products from cell phones to digital cameras. Over five million people have died as a result of the war, and hundreds of thousands of women have been raped in eastern Congo over the past decade. The armed groups that are perpetrating the violence generate an estimated $144 million each year by trading in four main minerals, the 3 Ts and gold:
All of these minerals are used in our every-day electronics – from cell phones, to laptops, to ipods, we may well be unwittingly helping to continue the genocide.
We’re not asking companies to pull up stakes in Congo and take their business elsewhere – that would just hurt the Congolese. What we’re asking is for companies to make sure any minerals they do buy aren’t passing through tainted hands, much as the diamond industry learned to avoid blood diamonds from West Africa. This will not only disempower the armed groups profiting from the trade in illegal minerals, it will also strengthen legitimate mining in Congo.
The trade in illegally extracted minerals finances the armed groups that commit mass atrocities in Congo. Until we address this root cause of the conflict, sexual violence, murder and displacement will continue to destroy Congolese communities.
Click here to take action to end the trade in conflict minerals!
Resources on Conflict Minerals
A Scramble for Tin in Congo (slideshow, New York Times)