Laptops, Cell Phones Fueling Rape and War in the Congo?

Conflict Minerals Trade Act key first step to ensuring armed groups don’t benefit from Americans’ high-tech purchases, says aid group. Eastern DRC has one of world’s highest rates of gender-based violence, child soldier use. Legislation would help companies certify products as “conflict free,” World Vision says.

Washington, DC, November 21, 2009 --( Aid group World Vision today endorsed the Conflict Minerals Trade Act, a House bill introduced by Representative Jim McDermott of Washington State to stop the trade in conflict minerals such as coltan, tin ore, gold and wolframite which are fueling a humanitarian crisis in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC).

The bill, if passed, would be a critical first step in helping U.S. consumers feel confident that their high-tech purchases are not funding violence against women and children in eastern Congo (DRC), where some 1.5 million people are currently displaced by a decade-old conflict being financed by the mining and sale of these minerals.

"This bill would begin addressing the trade in conflict minerals which has been funding a war marked by widespread rape, child soldiering, and one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises," said Rory Anderson, World Vision’s deputy director for advocacy and government relations.

"Americans deserve to know whether the electronics they buy are fueling bloodshed in Africa. This legislation would help give consumers that knowledge—and the power to make a difference every time they go to the electronics store."

World Vision also emphasized that the proposed legislation would benefit the electronics and software industries by providing a certified mechanism to label their products as "conflict free." To qualify for the label, companies would be required to purchase their coltan from audited, conflict-free processing facilities.

"We saw from the success of our ‘conflict diamond’ campaign a few years ago that American companies want to do the right thing," Anderson added. "They also understand that their customers demand products that can be certified as conflict free. But without a uniform process, such as the one proposed in this legislation, it’s very difficult for companies to tackle the supply chain challenge on their own."

The Christian relief agency’s response in eastern DRC has reached some 150,000 people since October 2008 with medical supplies, emergency food and non-food items, and training and activities to promote the protection of women and children, including Child-Friendly Spaces within displacement camps.


To interview a World Vision expert or to learn more about the agency’s work in the Congo, contact Geraldine Ryerson-Cruz at 202.615.2608 or

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organization dedicated to working with children, families and their communities worldwide to reach their full potential by tackling the causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.
World Vision
Rachel Wolff