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Return To The Congo

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  • Return To The Congo

    Back in May of 2009, I wrote a column entitled Death In The Congo – Can You Hear Me Now? (Here’s a link.) The title referred to the fact that the ongoing civil war was driven not by ethnic, tribal, or religious tensions, but rather by demand for scarce raw materials needed in western consumer electronics – laptops, digital camera, and especially cell phones. That civil war has gone largely unnoticed in this country, in part because it’s far away and in a place from which few Americans hail. Even African Americans are mostly from western Africa.

    Certainly the war was not ignored because not much was going on. In the nine years from 1998 through 2007, 5.4 million peopledied *in the Congolese Civil War, which makes it the most costly war, in human terms,*since World War II. The issue has resurfaced, or rather been re-discovered, as shoppers line up for consumer electronics this holiday season. Dealing with the problem is complicated. Nobody, including human rights organizations, wants to just boycott resources from the region as that would economically devastate the miners in the region – who don’t exactly have a great life as it is.

    Here’s a link to an article in the Washington Post with a good summary of recent (unfortunately unsuccessful) attempts to fix things.


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