Saturday, July 17, 2010

The Congolese civil war and the role of conflict minerals.

There is a brutal civil war raging in the Democratic Republic of Congo. An April 2007 study numbered the dead at 5.4 million and some estimate that 45,000 have died every month since then. What makes the war particularly gruesome is the fact that over 500,000 women and girls have been raped by the warring factions. It's been called the rape capital of the world.

Nicholas Kristof has written at least two columns on the situation. "Orphaned, Raped, and Ignored" tells the story of some of the war's victims."Death by Gadget" discusses the campaign against "conflict minerals" - the metals used in consumer electronics which are also one of the sources of the conflict in Congo. The warring factions extract these minerals and sell them to finance the war.

Raise Hope for Congo is an organization that is trying to raise awareness of the war and the role of conflict minerals. They've produced two videos. First is a spoof of the Mac vs. PC ads: "I'm a Mac ... and I've Got a Dirty Secret". The second is a more straightforward explanation: "Conflict Minerals 101".

A Thousand Sisters is the story of how Lisa Shannon, a successful but depressed businesswoman, found her "life's mission" while watching an Oprah show about the Congo. I haven't read the book but I plan to. There are also some helpful resources on the website.

The good news is that an amendment to the financial reform bill passed on July 16 requires that all publicly traded corporations audit their supply chains to ensure that they are not indirectly financing the civil war. However, Niraj Chokshi says that companies need to take the initiative - and that it wouldn't be too difficult. A 60 Minutes report on conflict minerals is also embedded on that page.

Dana Goldstein accounts for the $17 million pledged by the United States to help end the rape crisis in "Is Obama Failing Congo". Finally, Delphine Minoui tells the story of Chouchou Namegabe in "Congo's Anti-Rape Crusader".

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About Me

I'm Rachel's husband and Darcy's daddy. I'm a Hoosier, an accountant, and an Episcopalian. Politically, I'm a progressive who believes in the preferential option for the poor. I use the blog as a sort of journal - to interact with my reading and sketch out ideas.