Coltan causes death in the Congo

By: Veronnica Thompson

 Eagle Post Staff

     The Democratic Republic of Congo, located in Western Africa, experienced the world’s deadliest war since World War II, which began in 1998 and ended in 2003. During the five-year period, 5.4 million people died because of disagreements pertaining to the ownership of the region’s immense natural resources.

    Unfortunately, the conclusion of the war was a colloquial verbal agreement. The countries involved, DRC, Rwanda, Uganda, Chad, Sudan, Libya, and many other undisclosed countries, signed a treaty to end all conflict and unify the Congo; however, 1,000 people die everyday. Women are still being raped, and children are still being exploited every day because of coltan.

     Coltan is a natural resource found in the country that is used in cellular devices. The overwhelming demand for cell phones increases the demand for coltan. Thus, lucrative profits push militias to occupy the country and enforce a militaristic and hostile environment for the people. In short, a humanitarian crisis is ensuing.

     Even though cell phones are convenient and are not the sole reason for conflict in the Congo, they do add tremendous pressure to the crisis. The worst part is that people, youth especially, have no idea where the Democratic Republic of Congo even is let alone the disaster that is taking place.

     Cell phone commercials advertise technological advancement and extravagance. The cellular companies would never dream of enlightening their customers to the dark realities of their products. Because of ignorance or possibly apathy, individuals continue to purchase the top-of-the-line phones without the slightest inclination as to their deathly consequences.

     The key to a solution is education. Schools need to emphasize the disastrous effects of their students’ cell phones rather than concentrating on prohibiting texting. If students knew what their pleasures were costing others, they would limit their cellular indulgences. The government needs to take action, as well. Any country exporting coltan without a conflict-free certification needs to be ostracized.

     Countries, especially third-world countries, strongly depend on the United States for trade and economic support. If their supporter left, the poverty-stricken people would do anything to regain their financial backing. It would be highly beneficial for cell phone companies to dictate the truth of their product; however, this will never be done because profits could be lost. Nevertheless, action must be taken to secure the fate of a people, the fate of empathy, the fate of Africa. 

     Human lives are at stake and a mere extravagance should never transcend the importance of a life. Never. 


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January 2010
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