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Consuming the Congo

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Consuming the Congo

Posted by Enough Team on November 25, 2009

The Enough Project is proud to feature this exclusive, in-depth multimedia presentation from VII, the world's premiere conflict photography agency.

VII's photographers have extensively covered war in the Congo, and the three slideshows below chronicle the causes and effects of the war — the deadliest in the world since WWII.

Congo at War

Photos by VII Photographers
Comments by Enough's John Prendergast

Our demand for cell phones, laptops and other electronics is ravaging the Democratic Republic of the Congo. The Congo is rich in the minerals that make electronics work, and the battle for the resources has left over 5 million dead. Hundreds of thousands of women have been raped in the Congo, making it the world's most dangerous place to be a woman or girl.

We, as consumers of products made from Congo's "conflict minerals," hold the key to the solution.

Resource Exploitation

Photos by VII photographer Marcus Bleasdale
Comments by Enough

Congo’s mineral wealth did not spark the conflict in eastern Congo, but war profiteering has become the fuel that keeps the region aflame.

For 10 years, VII's Marcus Bleasdale has documented the effects of resource exploitation on the Congolese people. In this collection of images he shares some of the stories behind his incredible photos.

Rape as a War Crime

Photos by VII Photographers
Comments by Leslie Thomas, Executive Director of Art Works Projects

Although military and rebel factions in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) signed a peace agreement in early 2008, life in the region remains riddled with violence. Rape as a tool of war has been commonplace and perpetuated by all sides in the conflict. No one knows exactly how many women have been impacted, but there is not a community in eastern DRC which is untouched. Attacks on civilians, including little girls as young as three years old and grandmothers of 70, persist. As a result, families are often shattered and villages terrorized. The war has also decimated the health care system and parents are frequently unable to provide basic, life saving medical care for themselves and their children, resulting in even larger numbers of entirely preventable deaths.

The exhibition Congo/Women: Portraits of War, the Democratic Republic of Congo was created in collaboration with VII photographers Lynsey Addario, Marcus Bleasdale, Ron Haviv, and James Nachtwey by Art Works Projects and the Ellen Stone Belic Institute for the Study of Women & Gender at Columbia College Chicago in an effort to alert the public to this unacceptable gender violence and the widespread damage it has created. Once aware, the public can take the necessary steps to bring relief to survivors by calling their elected representatives, joining campaigns like Raise Hope for Congo, and working to bring the Congo/Women exhibition to their own communities.