DR Congo: metals in cell phones financing brutal war

Metals found in everyday electronic items, such as mobile phones and computers are being mined illegally in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and funding a conflict that has caused millions of deaths, says Global Witness.

Global Witness,  an international NGO established in 1993 that works to break the links between natural resource exploitation, conflict, poverty, corruption, and human rights abuses worldwide, challenged leading electronics companies to clean up their act during the opening day of the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain.

The UN Security Council recently passed a resolution, paving the way for the imposition of asset freezes and travel bans on companies that support armed groups in eastern Congo via the illicit mineral trade.

The NGO is urging the UN Security Council to start using these targeted sanctions against those who have failed to clean up their act.

Despite a series of high-level UN reports documenting the links between minerals and the conflict, companies that make colossal profits selling mobile phones and other electronic goods have done next to nothing to ensure that the components in their products are not sourced from areas controlled by armed groups.

“It is time for electronics companies to show they are serious about eliminating conflict minerals from their supply chains,” said Global Witness campaigner, Daniel Balint-Kurti.

“This means requiring suppliers that source minerals from DRC to declare exactly which mine the minerals come from, and carrying out spot checks and audits to back up these declarations. If companies cannot be sure that their minerals are conflict-free, they should not be buying them at all,” Balint-Kurti said.

“The main warring parties in eastern Congo – including the Rwandan-linked FDLR militia and the government’s own army – control much of the lucrative trade in minerals that produce tin, tantalum and tungsten, as well as gold.

These groups regularly commit horrific abuses against the civilian population, including mass murder, rape, torture and forced recruitment,” the organization said.

For more information see: www.globalwitness.org/index.php

Source: Catholic Information Service Africa

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