Tears of blood in our cell phones?

All - Oct 11 2018

The Nobel Peace Prize 2018 was awarded jointly to Nadia Murad and Denis Mukwege “for their efforts to end the use of sexual violence as a weapon of war and armed conflict”. 

Nadia Murad is an Iraqi Yazidi who was tortured and raped by Islamic State militants in 2014. After 3 horrible months of daily rapes, she escaped from her jail. She is now the UN’s first goodwill ambassador for survivors of human trafficking.

Denis Mukwege is a Congolese gynaecologist, specializing in the treatment of women who have been raped and gynaecological reconstruction. During the Second Congo War (1998-2003), he founded the Panzi hospital in 1999 to care for and to treat injured women after rape and extreme sexual violence. Since its opening, 50,000 survivors have been physically and psychologically treated. 

This hospital was built in Bukavu, the capital of the Sud-Kivu in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (RDC), where the human rights situation is all but innocent. Close to the Rwanda, the Burundi and the Uganda, Nord-Kivu and Sud-Kivu are Congolese regions rich in several ores (Gold, Tin and Coltan). Armed militias perpetrate extorsion against illegal miners to finance their terror campaigns and other activities. Due to a government weakened by corruption, the RDC is unable to collect taxes and maintain security in this area (even with the help of the United Nations Organization Stabilization Mission in the RDC/MONUSCO).

Congolese Ores Map



Coltan (short for columbite–tantalites and known industrially as tantalite) is a dull black metallic ore, from which the elements niobium and tantalum are extracted. Tantalum from coltan is used to manufacture batteries for electric cars, and  tantalum capacitors are used in electronic products (cell phones, digital tablet, etc.).Today, Rwanda accounts for 50% of global tantalum production, partly illegally exported from the RDC and blood-washed in Rwanda where mobile-phone manufacturers can profit from cheap access to an important resource and avoid the implications of exploiting a conflict area for business. Fairphone is one the rare manufacturers to commit to not using raw materials from warlike zones.

As consumers, we have the power to prevent such abuse by demanding more control and transparency over the provenance of raw materials in our IT devices. We need to hold sellers accountable for the whole supply chain, start to finish. Although it may drive up the cost of mobile phones, it’s a small price to pay for the silence of the cries of human trafficking victims in our ears.

Only then, there may be less Nadia Murads, and Dr. Denis Mukwege could lend his time and expertise to other emergencies.

 

Emeric Nicolas, Head of Data Science Dpt. - Sources: Beyond Ratings, USGS, HCSS, UN

 

 
 

 

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