I stumbled on this compelling short documentary by Journeyman Pictures, Congo's Tin Soldiers, and could not tear my eyes away. As this film emphasizes, the underlying causes of years of conflict — which are again escalating in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) — are inextricably linked with the "systematic looting" of the country's mineral wealth, especially cassiterite (tin oxide), cobalt and coltan. From the hazardous conditions under which these minerals are extracted at gunpoint, these are the primary components destined for laptops and cellphones all over the world.
It is a mind-boggling but critical issue. A recent UN report alleges that the use of slave labour and lack of any regulations in Congolese mining operations have been made possible in part by governments of rich countries and international financial institutions who fail to put pressure on mining companies to respect human and environmental rights. Indeed, war may be dirty, but the fully three-quarters of the 85 firms involved are registered in North America and western Europe - and they can't all claim blissful ignorance of exploitative mining operations in the Congo.
Journeyman Pictures via Youtube
Related Links on Democratic Republic of Congo
Mountain Gorillas Caught in the Middle of DR Congo Fighting, Park Rangers Forced to Flee
DR Congo: Increase Peacekeepers in Eastern Congo (Human Rights Watch)
"Looters' War" in the Congo (Dominion.ca)