The price of gold set another all-time record this past week. There's demand for gold for investments, for circuits in cell phones and computers, and, in this holiday season, for jewelry. But there's another price being paid for gold that you probably haven't heard about.
Gold and other minerals are funding the deadliest war since World War II. More than five million people have died in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Years ago, the jewelry industry banned the trafficking in so-called blood diamonds, but the same hasn't happened with gold.
In the heart of central Africa, "60 Minutes" found a campaign of rape and murder being funded largely by gold that is exported to the world.
Photos by VII Photographers
Comments by Enough's John Prendergast
Our demand for cell phones, laptops and other electronics is ravaging the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo is rich in the minerals that make electronics work, and the battle for the resources has left over 5 million dead. Hundreds of thousands of women have been raped in the Congo, making it the world's most dangerous place to be a woman or girl.
We, as consumers of products made from Congo's "conflict minerals," hold the key to the solution.
Photos by VII photographer Marcus Bleasdale Comments by Enough
Congo’s mineral wealth did not spark the conflict in eastern Congo, but war profiteering has become the fuel that keeps the region aflame.
For 10 years, VII's Marcus Bleasdale has documented the effects of resource exploitation on the Congolese people. In this collection of images he shares some of the stories behind his incredible photos.
Photos by VII Photographers
Comments by Leslie Thomas, Executive Director of Art Works Projects
Although military and rebel factions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signed a peace agreement in early 2008, life in the region remains riddled with violence. Rape as a tool of war has been commonplace and perpetuated by all sides in the conflict. No one knows exactly how many women have been impacted, but there is not a community in eastern DRC which is untouched. Attacks on civilians, including little girls as young as three years old and grandmothers of 70, persist. As a result, families are often shattered and villages terrorized. The war has also decimated the health care system and parents are frequently unable to provide basic, life saving medical care for themselves and their children, resulting in even larger numbers of entirely preventable deaths.
The International Criminal Court opened its second-ever trial today, where two alleged Congolese rebel leaders, Germain Katanga and Mathieu Ngudjolo, face 10 counts of crimes against humanity and war crimes, including murder, rape, sexual enslavement, and pillage. Read More »
Late last week, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee passed the Lord's Resistance Army Disarmament and Northern Uganda Recovery Act (S. 1067/HR 2478), moving the bill to just one step away from final passage by the Senate. Read More »
I regularly interact with Congolese people who roll their eyes when I suggest they report a crime to the police or the army. Impunity has divided the population and the security apparatus; all that is left is skepticism and distrust. The investigation into the murder of businessman Albert Prigogine has taken on national significance and generated international press. But even in this spotlight, will justice be done?