"Hunting For Treasure in a Playground From Hell"

According to recent news articles and TV broadcasts, the issue of child labor being used in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) has became a rising concern. Recent research by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) estimates about 40,000 children, as young as four, are working in the DRC mines mining for cobalt.

Children as young as four work in the mines.

Cobalt is used in a majority of batteries in popular devices, including, but not limited to, cell phones, laptops and electric vehicles. Companies such as Apple, Microsoft, Tesla, and Samsung have all been investigated for purchasing their batteries from companies that get their resources from the DRC mines.

Argentinian street artist, Eduardo Relero, drew a street mural depicting the recent abuse in front of an Apple Store to raise awareness for these children.

 

The stories I’ve read regarding what these kids are going through made me sick. For example, an eight year old boy named Dorsen didn’t even wear shoes while he was mining. He told SkyNews that he hadn't made enough money to eat for the past two days - despite working for about 12 hours a day. There are also no industrial tools or hard hats available. The risk of a cave-in is a constant worry but they continue working anyways. Similarly, none of these workers, including the adults, wear gloves or masks. It is known that breathing in and exposure to cobalt can cause long-term health problems.

Moreover, a doctor from Kimpesa, Becha Gibu, said that many of the babies he delivered were born with infections, rashes, and other unknown illnesses. He also went on to talk about how the mothers aren’t strong when they’re giving birth. Researchers believe that this is because of the water that is being exposed to the cobalt.

Monica, 4

According to the Washington Post, “the president of ... Huayou Cobalt [said] that his company had never questioned how its minerals were obtained, despite operating in Congo and cities such as Kolwezi for a decade. ‘That is our shortcoming,’ Chen said … ‘We didn’t realize.’”

Chen said Huayou planned to change how it buys cobalt and that they’ve hired an outside company to oversee the process. It’s also said that they’re working with their customers (i.e. Apple) to help prevent this abuse from continuing.

Additionally, it has been reported that Donald Trump is set to issue a new executive order that would prevent US companies from profiting from "conflict minerals" mined in the DRC and surrounding countries. No matter what actions are being taken now, I still wonder how this possibly went on for so long. I hope that in the coming months all of these individuals, children and adults, get the proper healthcare, counseling, and any other means they need to get past this. Even though consumers purchasing computers and phones are unaware of this, it still makes you want to throw your phone in the garbage out of guilt.

**Title is a direct quote from CBS news.**

Sources: X / X / X

 

Maggie is a Sport Management major with minors in Business and Deaf Studies. She's currently an intern with the Flying Pig Marathon and LOVES IT! She an avid netflix watcher so if you need any suggestions for a new series to watch, shes got you. Her end goal is to work for the US women's national soccer team or the Detroit Pistons! 

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