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The Rough Costs of Rough Diamonds: Blood Diamonds

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As I sat with my family, my father handed me a box. My birthday gift was a little jewelry box. I opened it and staring back at me were two diamond earrings.
“Oh and don’t worry they’re clean, certified diamonds”, my father said.
I asked him what he meant by clean and certified. He began to explain the chaos and genocide in Africa, and how some the “bad diamonds” were helping to contribute to this ugly cause. Why isn’t more being done to abrogate that conflict diamonds don’t get into the mainstream diamond industry?
Conflict diamonds, also known as “blood diamonds,” are stones that are produced in areas of Africa controlled by rebel forces. Rebel groups terrorize countries such as Sierra Leone, Angola, Ivory Coast, and in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). At the height of the conflict diamond trade, the world market was 4-15% conflict diamonds. The revenue of the diamonds is estimated to be $7.5 billion. The money rebel forces get from trading the diamonds is put towards funding and fueling rebel armies with weapons.
In Sierra Leone, the number of diamond related deaths is 20,000-50,000 people. There are 5,000-5,400 child soldiers in combat areas, and 5,000 more children in support roles. There are 1 million civilians displaced due to fighting. The RUF have spent $476.4 million on military.
In Angola, 650,000 civilians have been killed due to diamonds. There are 5,000-7,000 child soldiers, and 2.7 million Angolans have been displaced. The military has spent $1.2 billion on funding their army.
In the DRC, there have been 200,000 deaths due to direct violent acts and a total of 1.7 million deaths due to war related issues. There are 10,000 child soldiers. 1.8 million Congolese have displaced. The military has spent $1.2 billion funding the army.
One reasonable thing the world can do to ensure that blood diamonds don’t circulate is to work with the already in affect Kimberly Process and tighten its trade regulations. A more powerful authority needs to ensure a crack down in loopholes. Without proper intervention, there will continue to be strife in Africa. Although, if enough action isn’t taken to fix the Kimberly Process, Africa will continue to be threatened by rebel forces, and that means more innocent lives will be taken. Just because the guns are silenced for now, doesn’t mean they will stay that way forever.





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