The Democratic Republic of Congo: 2012 - D.R.C. - Kivus
In the Kivu provinces, located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo, a potpourri of armed groups and governments have used conflict minerals to help fund the warfare, atrocities and repression that have afflicted the area for more than a century.
The electronics industry is one of the main destinations for these minerals, which include tourmaline, cassiterite and coltan. They are used to make critical components of mobile phones, laptops and other gadgets.
The effects of this mineral trade on every person’s life—even the lives of people who aren’t working at the mines—are palpable. At a Heal Africa clinic in Goma, I met an emaciated teenage girl who had been gang-raped by three Hutu militiamen allegedly funded by profits from the mines.
I’m not advocating giving up our gadgets. The causes of problems in Congo are far more complex. But I’d like people to pause when they look at these photographs, taking time to think about where the material for modern technology comes from—and what lives are affected before they get into the phones in our hands.