Congo: child labor for smartphones, africa, dw

June 12th is World Day Against Child Labor. According to the UN, around 168 million children work worldwide. A lot of them in Africa. The situation is particularly bad for many child laborers in the Congo.

Many children in the Congo have to work (archive picture)

"The working conditions in the mines are miserable. Many children are physically broken. There are whole tunnels that are dug by hand. They dig with their bare hands, with machetes or with spades. And it is not uncommon for accidents to happen. They are buried alive after landslides." Faustin Adeye describes the working conditions in the cobalt mines in the south of the Congo so drastically. He represents the Catholic aid organization Misereor on site.

According to the UN Children’s Fund Unicef, around 40,000 children work in the mines in the south of the Congo. Her earnings are $ 1 to $ 2 a day. To do this, they have to spend up to 24 hours underground. Some children are said to be just seven years old. According to the human rights organization Amnesty International, cobalt is one of the raw materials that children mine there – often without protective clothing.

What responsibility do large corporations have?

The coveted raw material is used for smartphone batteries. So it ends up in the smartphones of Apple, Microsoft, Samsung and Sony. Cobalt can also be found in the electric cars from Daimer and Volkswagen. However, companies do not want to be associated with child labor. DW had already asked some of them to comment in December 2016.

Cobalt is mainly used for smartphones.

Daimler AG announced in writing that it required all suppliers to comply with the applicable international rules and laws. The Group’s guidelines regarding working conditions, social and ethical standards and environmental protection went far beyond legal obligations. Suppliers have also undertaken to comply with these minimum standards, said Daimler.

BMW admitted that it also processes cobalt from the Congo when producing certain batteries. At the same time, the car manufacturer from Bavaria announced a meticulous check of its suppliers. It must be ensured that the BWM suppliers also do not tolerate any human rights violations.

Apple has now announced concrete consequences: In March, the US company announced that it wanted to stop the purchase of cobalt, which is mined by hand in the Congo.

Poverty is one of the main reasons for child labor in Africa

The largest deposits of cobalt in the world are located in the Democratic Republic of the Congo. Amnesty International, on the other hand, thinks the announcements are just nice words. According to Amnesty, at least 50 percent of the world’s cobalt is mined in the Congo. It is therefore impossible to rule out that the cobalt from the Congo would not end up in detours at companies worldwide.

International day against child labor

Around 168 million children have to go to work worldwide. The International Labor Organization (ILO) launched the International Day Against Child Labor in 2002 to draw attention to its situation. It takes place every year on June 12th.

This year, the focus is on how conflicts and disasters affect child labor. Wars and environmental disasters threaten human rights. Children are particularly affected: in these situations, they often lack access to education or lose their families. This often drives them into child labor.

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  • date 06/11/2017
  • Writer / Author Antonio Cascais
  • topics pagesDaimler, BMW, Apple
  • TagsChild Labor, International Day Against Child Labor, Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Daimler, BMW, Apple
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  • date 06/11/2017
  • Writer / Author Antonio Cascais
  • topics pagesDaimler, BMW, Apple
  • TagsChild Labor, International Day Against Child Labor, Africa, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Daimler, BMW, Apple
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