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November 3, 2008
Rich natural resources partly fuel crisis in Congo


AUDIO: Scott Baldauf, a correspondent for The Christian Science Monitor in Africa, tells Martin Savidge that anyone with a cell phone has ties to Congo given the country’s rich resources.

Congolese minerals are found in cell phones, laptops and other electronics around the world.

The ongoing crisis in eastern Congo is partly fueled by contested mineral resources — the country is rich in copper, diamonds, cobalt, petroleum, gold, silver, zinc and coltan.

Rebel militia leader Laurent Nkunda recently denounced the Congolese government for a $9 billion deal with Chinese companies to extract 10.6 million tons of copper and 626,000 tons of cobalt.

The “Harper in DRC” blog provides advice for consumers concerned about their products, arguing that Hewlett Packard and Apple, among other companies, are not as socially responsible as they claim to be.

The “Gustavian Weekly” blog writes that people are using “blood cell phones” and urges more awareness.

Alison Raphael of OneWorld writes about a boycott of cell phones to protest the Congolese war.

David in Congo writes, “The country is rich in minerals but around me I see rubble,” describing the panic on the ground.

See Consumer International’s report on coltan, a mineral found in cell phones. Eighty percent of the world’s coltan comes from eastern Congo.

Below, the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting outlines the role of coltan in Congo’s civil war. See Pulitzer Center reporter Michael Kavanagh’s answers to Worldfocus viewer questions about the crisis.

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[…] Competition for natural resources often lies at the heart of human conflict, from oil and water in the Middle East to contested coltan in the Democratic Republic of Congo. […]

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