Share this story
Close X
Switch to Desktop Site

As Ivory Coast's Gbagbo holds firm, 'blood diamonds' flow for export

Next Previous

Page 2 of 3

About these ads

A country divided

The New Forces have controlled the northern half of Ivory Coast since 2002. Nearly all of Ivory Coast's diamond deposits are located in the north, where the rebel group levies taxes on the production and trade of the stones.

The UN prohibited all imports of Ivorian diamonds in 2005, citing links to the rebels. The embargo has been extended ever since.

Despite the ban, diamond extraction is booming in the north-central Ivorian district of Séguéla, where new deposits have "significantly increased" the country's rough diamond production, a group of experts concluded in a report for the UN Sanctions Committee in April.

The total value of diamond production in Ivory Coast has been estimated at between $18 million and $20 million, says Mr. Chardon. He stresses that the figure represents only a fraction of a percent of the $9 billion global trade in the stones.

The relatively low figure is a reflection of the small scale of Ivorian diamond mining. Artisanal miners who use hand-held sieves to pan for the stones in rivers and streams are responsible for most production. Richer deposits lie in kimberlite pipes deep below the surface, but the miners lack technology to access them.

The production values in Ivory Coast may be low, but they should not be taken lightly, says Elly Harrowell of the Global Witness rights group in London.

"The money from those exports could buy a lot of guns," she says.

How to stem the trade

Other West African nations have proved that it is possible to curtail the flow of illicit diamonds, but the process takes time – and the cooperation of government officials.

Sierra Leone, whose diamond-funded civil war officially ended in January 2002, was one of the founding members of the Kimberley Process the following year. Liberian diamonds were under UN sanctions for six years, but the country was admitted into the Kimberley Process and began to export diamonds legally in 2007.

Next Previous

Page:   1   |   2   |   3

Follow Stories Like This
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.