Saturday, 20 July 2019

What Price A Smart Phone?

         That devastated area known as the Democratic Republic of Congo has saw its people mired in blood, deprivation and forced migration to avoid possible death or serious injury for years. Its people suffer poverty and deprivation as a way of life, the reason, it is a very rich country with incredible wealth in natural resources. I wrote the following piece five years or so ago, sadly the people are still living in a swamp of violence, death, deprivation and corruption, all because of that rich bounty of natural resources.

     It says a lot about our present economic system when you look around the world and find that countries with the richest natural resources have some of the poorest people on our earth. The Middle East is a wash with oil, which transfers into unbelievable wealth, but you can't say its people are all very rich. This pattern is repeated across the planet, another example is the Democratic Republic of Congo. A vast country, the second largest in Africa, the 11th largest in the world. As well as having coal, oil and diamonds, it is also the richest source of cobalt in the world. That rather dull looking material produces unimaginable wealth for the corporate world, but little for the people of the that country. In fact it is the opposite, this immeasurable wealth is probably the main cause of the suffering of the people.
         Because of the economic system that prevails today, blood will be shed to get control of that wealth. Sadly that blood is shed for the end product of things like mobile phones and laptops, and these are products that the vast majority of the people who produce that raw material will never see.
        If it was just dreadful working conditions and poor pay, that would be bad enough, but we are talking about millions dying and millions more suffering unimaginable violence. Since its bitter struggle to be free from the Western colonialists, the country has been blighted by violence, and at the root of that, is the fact that it is very rich in raw materials like cobalt.
      The Second Congo War, sometimes referred to as the “African World War”, as it involved around twenty armed groups and nine other African countries started in 1998. No doubt all eager to get a slice of that wealth. Although “Peace Accords” were signed in 2003, fighting continued in the east of the country through 2007. In this region the prevalence of all manner of sexual violence and rape is often described as the worst in the world. Since 1998 this conflict has claimed the lives of more than 5.4 million people. Though this was a brutal conflict, more than 90% were not killed in combat, they died from such things as malaria, pneumonia, diarrhoea, and malnutrition, brought about by the usual companions of war, displaced populations ending up living in unsanitary, over crowed conditions, combined with lack of shelter, clean water, food and medical care. What is even more tragic, 47% of those deaths were children under five.
         The country also has great agricultural potential but this is being stifled by this conflict, which still continues. It is the struggle to control those vast mineral resources that drives this most brutal and savage conflict. Is your mobile phone worth it?
       Surely we have the imagination and the ability to devise a economic system whereby natural resources do not equate with misery, poverty, deprivation and bloodshed for the many, and unbelievable opulence for the few.

According to World Report:
         Throughout 2018, government officials and security forces carried out widespread repression and serious human rights violations against political opposition leaders and supporters, pro-democracy and human rights activists, journalists, and peaceful protesters. The December 30 elections were marred by widespread irregularities, voter suppression, and violence. More than a million Congolese were unable to vote when voting was postponed until March 2019 in three pro-opposition areas.
The same report also states: 
       That 4.5 million people are displaced from their homes due to clashes with armed groups and government forces. 13 million people need humanitarian assistance, and 140+ armed groups are active in Eastern Congo's North Kivu and South Kivu provinces.
        This is the pattern of corporate capitalism world wide, resources are for the profit of the few, while the many suffer as the plunders violently squabble over the riches of the country.
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