When the world gets closer.

We help you see farther.

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter.

Sources

Kids Are Dying In Congolese Gold Mines, And No One Is Held Accountable

Underage workers wind up digging for gold, and too often dying in the process. Family traditions are part of why no one is ever held responsible.

Children at work in a Congolese gold mine
Children at work in a Congolese gold mine
Jean Nondo

KAMITUGA - In this Congolese mining city, children are working illegally -- and dying as a result.

Over the past few months alone, at least ten youths were reported to have died, crushed by collapsing rocks or asphyxiated inside the mines of Kamituga, in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo.

Their heartbroken parents are left to just take compensation money -- no one is considering suing the directors of the mines.

One father, a local pastor, lost both his sons, aged 16 and 18. “One of the people in charge of a gold mine gave me $3,000 after they died," he recalls, adding only that his eldest son had recently graduated from high school.

According to a local activist Benoit Mwati, ten boys died in 2012 from collapsing rocks or asphyxia in the mining sector of Kamituga. “A 17-year-old died from asphyxia in a gold mine tunnel. The owner bought the family a wooden house. I think it's worth $1,500. There was no trial,” Mwati remembers.

However, the Civil Code (Article 258) stipulates that “any act from a person causing another person damages, compels said person to make amends.” Article 260 adds that a person must be held accountable for their actions and the actions of those they are responsible for.

Manslaughter

Assistant Deputy Commissioner Eugene Kakisingi of the local mining authority says work in the mines is the worst job a child can do, and cites a statute strictly prohibiting "any kind of labor that may jeopardize by its nature, work conditions, the personal health, growth, security, dignity and morality of a child,” says Kakisingi.

But, as they search for gold in the valley of the nearby Mobale River, both children and adults in their overalls -- armed with a pickaxe and a headlamp -- come and go from the depths of the earth. The children eagerly dig for their treasure, but are oblivious to the risks they face when emulating the adults. Most of them work at the surface level, sorting out the gold from the stones.

Head of the nearby “Social Vision” association Pappy Kajakiba says the owners of the mines where kids are dying "need to be prosecuted on charges of manslaughter" for failing to prevent the deaths. For now, the Civil Society Organization has condemned child labor in mines in monthly meetings for child protection, but to no avail.

One reason why the parents don’t file formal complaints is pressure from the extended family. The pastor who lost his two sons last year explained that local custom forbids taking action -- “because lots of kids are bound to work in the mines of their fathers, uncles or elder brothers,” explains Benoit Mwati.

You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
Green

Where Everyone's Rationing Water  — Except The Coca-Cola Plant

In the northern Italian region of Veneto, drought has forced half the municipalities to ration water resources. In contrast, the region's Coca-Cola plant has upped production, using even more water that it gets for a cheap price.

Coca Cola ad in Rome, Italy

Angelo Mastrandrea

NOGARA — On the morning of Sat., July 9, several hundred activists from the Rise Up 4 Climate Justice movement arrived at the Nogara train station from all over the Veneto region, in northeastern Italy, and then walked to the town's industrial area. They were headed to the local Coca-Cola plant to protest its "extractivist" policies, which are based on hoarding resources at the expense of the local community.

In the Verona region, drought has caused a severe water crisis that has forced half of the municipalities to restrict water use. On the other hand, Coca-Cola, which uses water as its main raw material, has not slowed production.

Keep reading...Show less

When the world gets closer, we help you see farther

Sign up to our expressly international daily newsletter!
You've reached your monthly limit of free articles.
To read the full article, please subscribe.
Get unlimited access. Support Worldcrunch's unique mission:
  • Exclusive coverage from the world's top sources, in English for the first time.
  • Stories from the best international journalists.
  • Insights from the widest range of perspectives, languages and countries
Already a subscriber? Log in
Writing contest - My pandemic story
THE LATEST
FOCUS
TRENDING TOPICS

Central to the tragic absurdity of this war is the question of language. Vladimir Putin has repeated that protecting ethnic Russians and the Russian-speaking populations of Ukraine was a driving motivation for his invasion.

Yet one month on, a quick look at the map shows that many of the worst-hit cities are those where Russian is the predominant language: Kharkiv, Odesa, Kherson.

Watch VideoShow less
MOST READ