Understanding how #smartphone corporates abuse children

Child cobat miner, featured by Sky News reporter, Alex Crawford. Filmed in Katanga, DR Congo, 2017
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Understanding the abusive cycle: government, corporates, kids…

  • The DR Congo government told the people to mine for themselves after state run mines went bankrupt. The government does not enforce labour laws which prohibit child labour. There are thousands of unofficial cobalt mines in DR Congo, with no proper infrastructure, safety practice or equipment.
  • The DR Congo produces 60% of the world’s cobalt, and unofficial mines produce 20% of that figure. Mining cobalt without safety practices and proper equipment is damaging to health and extremely dangerous – sometimes lethal.
  • Corporates like Apple, Sony, Samsung, Microsoft have found it difficult / impossible to know if the cobalt they buy was mined by children.
  • This means that corporates are, in effect, profiting from child labour and human rights abuses.
  • Corporates express concern. A lack of pro-active response (apathy, denial, lack of care?) has allowed children and adult informal miners to be exploited for years.
  • Corporates see eventual exclusion of informally mined cobalt by adults (“creusseurs”) and children as the solution.
  • Exclusion from the supply chain does not solve the problem for the creussers or child miners. They depend on cobalt mining to survive.

The work is miserable and dangerous for children. They get paid as little as 8p a day. Sometimes nothing. Ask yourself: are you OK with that – or are you outraged?

Practical plans that WOULD help

  • Sustained fundraising. MONEY!
  • Enough money to get the children out of the mines and into a program of welfare support: food and schooling
  • Enough money to support creusseurs to have equipment, training, safe working practices. In other words – investment.
  • Decent and fair pay. FAIR PAY.
  • How to raise that money? Corporates hate giving away money. This flaw in their collective mentality means they become practically amoral. So – pass that responsibility on to the customer. Ask us to pay a donation at the point of sale. Some will refuse. Some will gladly and generously pay. Even if it’s only a 10p surcharge on every unit sold, that will raise a heap of cash.

THE POINT OF THIS IS: It’s better to do something rather than nothing and at the moment, corporates are doing pretty much… nothing. We want to change that.

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