The components controlling the flow of electricity in mobile phones are composed of the refined mineral known as Coltan. With more and more people using mobile phones the demand for Coltan has increased significantly.
Mobile phones fuel Congo conflict
The largest reserves of Coltan are to be found in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, and much of the finance sustaining the civil wars in Africa, especially in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, is directly connected to Coltan profits. Coltan is extracted under terrible working conditions in mines in Eastern Congo.
The United Nations reports child labour in Africa has significantly increased in Coltan mines. In some regions of the Congo, about 30 percent of schoolchildren are now forced to work in the mines.
It can be dangerous to ask questions
“The control over these resources works through maintaining local militia and exploiting cheap labour to excavate the mines”, says Antony Grange, Country Coordinator with experience from the DanChurchAid work in DRC Congo. “Attempting to oppose these practices locally is very risky business, as DanChurchaid’s former partner “Héritiers de la Justice” knows all too well since they have experienced several assassination of their staff members in the recent years. Only international pressure may stop this development,” says Antony Grange.
International pressure is important
When Denmark become a member of the UN Security Council, the Danish Government put the actions to promote peace and stability in Africa on top of the agenda, and they promised to put a focus on the role natural recourses play as a cause to many conflicts. Income from oil, diamonds and export of woods, continues to fuel armed conflicts.
A call to action
However, Denmark has not managed to convince the Security Council to strengthen the present activities. Therefore the Danish development NGOs now call on the Minister for Foreign Affairs to bring the issue to the table and to work for more efficient tools for the UN to punish those who make profit out of the conflict resources. The organisation also calls for a permanent position within the UN, with a mandate to work for prevention of conflicts financed by natural resources such as oil, woods, and minerals.