Some hidden costs of your smartphone

Some hidden costs of your smartphone

Marcus Bleasdale knows more about what goes into your smartphone than you’d ever want to hear about it. The British photographer has been documenting unthinkable violence in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) since 1999.

During that time, tens of thousands of child soldiers have been a part of conflict that has led to more than 5 million deaths. At the heart of this violence are what are called “conflict minerals,” including gold and diamonds. More recently, three other conflict minerals — tantalum, tungsten and tin — have come into focus because they are used to produced smartphones, laptops, tablets, cameras and other electronic devices.

We caught up with Bleasdale Sunday morning before he took the stage at Social Good Summit.

“Anyone in today’s world is using a significant amount of electronics products,” he told Mashable. “All of these consumable products have, at some time, had conflict minerals from Congo in them. We as consumers should be appalled by that.”

Bleasdale said the violence really hits home when he sees an 11-year-old child, the same age as his niece, forced to tote an assault riffle. He also called sexual violence “the weapon of choice” by warlords in the DRC. About 40,000 women were raped in the DRC during a 12-month period in 2006-2007, according to a report published in the American Journal of Public Health.  Read more here!

Some hidden costs of your smartphone

Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic A child is put to work at a militia-run mine in Watsa. This image appears in the the October 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic magazine.

Some hidden costs of your smartphone

Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic

Workers rip the earth apart in search of gold at the Sufferance mine in the Ituri region. Much of Congo’s gold, more than $600 million worth a year, is smuggled across borders. This image appears in the the October 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic magazine.

Some hidden costs of your smartphone

A boy waits his turn for spoonfuls of rice and beans in Pluto. In some areas of eastern Congo up to 40 percent of gold miners are children, often forcibly recruited by militias.This image appears in the the October 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic magazine. Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic

Some hidden costs of your smartphone

Marcus Bleasdale/National Geographic

Already a soldier, a boy with an assault rifle pedals to base camp during fighting in the Ituri region in 2003. Photographer Marcus Bleasdale says that of all of his images from the Congo, this one has provoked the most response from the public. This image appears in the the October 125th anniversary issue of National Geographic magazine.

Published as: Africa Photographer Witnesses the Human Cost of Our Electronics 

BY FRAN BERKMAN

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