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 the United Nations estimates that 200,000 women have been raped in eastern Congo over the past decade. The armed groups that are perpetuating the violence generate over $100 million each year by trading in three main minerals, the 3 Ts:
• Tin – used as a solder on circuit boards inside cell phones and laptops. 70% of the world’s tin is used as solder, and 5-10% of tin ore comes from eastern Congo.
• Tantalum – used to store electricity in iPods, digital cameras, and cell phones. 70% of the world’s tantalum is used in electronic products, and 15% comes from Congo.
• Tungsten – used to make your cell phone or Blackberry vibrate. Tungsten is a growing source of income for armed groups in Congo.
In late 2008, UN investigations revealed that key tin smelting companies, who sell tin to the major electronics companies, are buying tin ore directly from rebel-held areas in eastern Congo. The money that the rebels generated from those tin sales is now allowing them to buy even more weapons and continue to kill, rape and loot across eastern Congo.
What you can do:
Email, fax or call the biggest buyers of these minerals – major electronics companies – and demand better. As always, please be polite and friendly, you are more likely to get a response. Here’s what you can write:
As a consumer of your product, I am concerned that your company and the electronics industry as a whole may be buying minerals from the war-torn region of eastern Congo. Over five million people have died in eastern Congo thus far, hundreds of thousands of women have been raped, and the violence is worsening today.
Tin, tantalum, and tungsten – the 3 Ts – are all key metals used in your products, and armed groups in eastern Congo rely heavily on funds from the illicit trade in these minerals to finance their activities.
I would very much appreciate if you could share with me the concrete steps you are taking to ensure that your supply chain is transparent, reliably traced and “conflict free.” Like many of your customers, I want to know for sure that my cell phone or digital camera is not helping fund violence in Congo.
This will be a key first step, but we will need your help later, too.
Emailing the electronics companies is an important step, but it will not be the last. Sign up for our action alerts at www.raisehopeforcongo.org so we can update you on the companies’ responses, as well as send you future action alerts to hold unresponsive companies accountable, support conflict minerals legislation in Congress, and pass shareholder resolutions.
Source: RAISE Hope for Congo