Sunday, 27 November 2011

Blood in the Mobile

Blood in the Mobile is a hardhitting documentary about how mobile phones (and other consumer electronics products) contain minerals such as coltan, which are mined in the Congo. The mines employ child labour and are guarded by military and paramilitary organisations which profit from the mines by taxing the workers and demanding payment from anyone who wants to go into the mine (for example to make a documentary film.) Armed conflict in the Congo over the last 15 years has cost the lives of over 5 million people. 300,000 women have been raped during the conflict. The conflict is funded by the taxes and charges mentioned about and the selling of minerals.

The director of the film Frank Poulsen travels to the mines in Congo to see what conditions are like there. (There is a really harrowing scene down the mine.) He also travels to Finland to try to talk to decision makers within Nokia, the largest producer of mobile phones in the world to see what they are doing to make sure that their phones don't contain minerals from conflict areas of Congo. Nokia are very evasive, they don't say where their minerals come from and in fact spend much of the film denying that it is possible to trace minerals through the supply chains. (despite the fact that German scientists interviewed in this film have devised a way of doing just that - surely Nokia with their large resource and development budget must be able to pay these scientists to trace their minerals?).

Every Nokia employee interviewed in the film whined about how difficult it is to make a difference and assured the film maker that Nokia is doing all it can. Somehow I doubt that they really are.

It is likely that there is no mobile phone in the world that can be guaranteed free from conflict minerals. To do your bit to change this, you can write to your mobile phone company and ask them what their stance is and encourage them to source conflict free minerals. In addition you can take the actions on the Blood in the Mobile website.

You can also do your bit by considering whether you need a mobile phone at all and if you conclude that it is actually essential to your life, then only replace your phone if it breaks, rather than buying the latest hot new model, as I believe is what many people do these days.

As ever, text in red contains hyperlinks which take you to other webpages where you can find out more.

7 comments:

Rabbits' Guy said...

This is a great topic. Perhaps eventual recycling of cellular phones will sustain the need and end this kind of practice.

gabriellebryden said...

It's shocking and not just mobile phones, but laptops, tablets etc., that use child labour. Not sure what the solution is, but part of the problem needs to be addressed in the country that is doing the exploiting - same goes for work conditions across the globe - the reason why the manufacturing industries of developed countries are disappearing, because of cheap labour (exploited) overseas.

ashok said...

that's eye opening...

Rachel Fox said...

I love your use of "whining"! Straight talking wins.
x

Dave King said...

This is really worrying. Not unduly surprising, and in line with much that is unsavoury in our modern world, but thanks for telling.

bunnits said...

Thank you for this information. I was clueless. Actually, I must admit I hadn't even thought about it.

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