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Switch off your phones for Congo's women

Posted on: June 24, 2013 2:40 PM
Coltan in phones is linked to conflict and sexual violence in DRC
Photo Credit: Micah Challenge
Related Categories: communications, gender violence, Global, iawn, women

Micah Challenge urges Anglicans to join 30 June phone fast

By the Revd Terrie Robinson, writing for ACNS 

[Watch Micah Challenge's video here]

The Christian organisation Micah Challenge International has asked Anglicans around the world to help end violence, rape and death in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) by joining the ‘Your Call’ phone fast and demanding change from phone providers. 

Micah Challenge representative Amanda Jackson explained how illegal trade in coltan – a mineral found in mobile phones and other electronic devices – is linked to continuing conflict in the DRC and sexual violence against women and children.

“Violence and suffering in the DRC have continued for years”, she said. “There is fighting among ethnic groups and between various militias and government troops. The country’s central government and UN peacekeeping troops in the region seem powerless to stop the different militias and rogue army troops extorting money from the trade in coltan and other minerals – money that is used to buy more weapons.

“Mobile phones, laptops and tablet computers contain a refined form of coltan, most of which is mined in the DRC.  So all of us who have one of these devices have some conflict coltan in our pocket.  We can raise awareness by taking part in the 30 June phone fast and calling for more transparency in the mobile phone industry.”

Ms Jackson gave some of the statistics which point to the scale of suffering in DRC. Five million have died in the last 15 years and there are 2.6 million people without a home. Many have been displaced multiple times over the years.

But she added, “...statistics are inadequate to sum up the chaos caused by rival militia groups which roam freely inflicting terrible violence on the local villagers, forcing boys to join militia groups, and raping girls and women who dare to walk to school or tend their garden plots.

“No one really knows how many rapes and sexual attacks have taken place and few victims like to talk, fearing the social stigma. But it’s estimated that a rape occurs in the region every 70 seconds. That’s over a thousand every day. Rape is used by all sides as a terrible weapon to spread fear.”

Ms Jackson commended the work of Anglican churches in the DRC who for years have been involved in sheltering those fleeing the fighting in Eastern Congo and who have extended care to survivors of rape,  working to break down stigma and restore their ‘esprit de vivre’. “We know the prayers and advocacy actions of Anglicans around the world will highlight the part we can all play in standing with millions who long for peace."

The Micah Challenge ‘Your Call’ campaign invites all who want to end the silence and put a stop to suffering and injustice in the Congo to take two simple actions:

  1. Click here and send a message to the biggest phone providers asking them to invest in making their supply chains transparent and producing verifiably conflict-free products.
  2. Join with women and men in Congo and around the world in keeping the awareness-raising 24 hour phone fast on Sunday 30 June (Congo Independence day). Email info@micahchallenge.org or click here to let Micah Challenge know you're doing it.

Women’s Desk Officer at the Anglican Communion Office, the Revd Terrie Robinson, added her support; “We must let our sisters and brothers in Congo know they are not forgotten. We can keep praying for them and tell others in our local networks, churches and communities about these simple actions in support of ending conflict in DRC. It’s our call, and the women and children of Congo can’t wait.”

ENDS

Notes to Editors:

  • Micah Challenge is a global movement encouraging Christians to be committed to the poor and hold governments accountable for their pledge within the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). See more at www.micahchallenge.org.uk.
  • A video and tool kit for the ‘Your Call’ campaign can be downloaded at http://micahchallenge.org.uk/engage/w2w/647-your-call . For more information, contact Amanda Jackson at +44 (0)207 367 6573; email info@micahchallenge.org
  • The Anglican Communion is a member of the We Will Speak coalition of Churches and Christian organisations working against sexual violence. See www.wewillspeakout.org.
  • See here for information about a project in the Anglican Diocese of Bukavu in Eastern Congo supporting women and girls who have been raped.