What are conflict diamonds? What are the impacts of them?

What are blood diamonds?

Conflict diamonds, also known as blood diamonds come from war-torn countries, usually in Africa. These countries include Angola, Liberia, Sierra Leone, The Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote d’Ivoire (Ivory Coast). It is a term used for a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance more weapons and ammunition to carry on the fighting. The term is used to highlight the negative consequences of the diamond trade in certain areas, or to label an individual diamond as having come from such an area. Diamonds mined during the recent civil war in Sierra Leone, and other nations have been given the label.

-Social impacts

Social impacts on Liberia due to blood diamonds.

In the diamond mining industries, child labour plays a big role. The average age of the kids forced into child labour begin usually around the age of twelve and can work up to sixteen hours a day. They often suffer from damaged finger tips and blisters, along with more severe illnesses such as exhaustion, headaches, and malaria. Information about child labour in African countries, such as Liberia is hard to find because it is very well hidden. Although recently, the progression of child labour in these countries has made the public more aware of what is happening. Recent news reports show that thousands of children are working in these mines. Some of them work to support and provide for their family, while others are merely orphans or “street children” that are forced to work. The conditions are not pleasant, and are very much slave-like. Along with that, children are also sent to fight in these wars supported by the conflict diamonds without option. One social group that has had a major contributor of the exchange of blood diamonds is a group call Al-Qaeda. They were a terrorist group that traded and bought diamonds all throughout Liberia underneath the radar. The money was used to provide weapons for the Al-Qaeda, along with providing weapons for the war as well. The buying and reselling of conflict diamonds involving Al-Qaeda has helped manage their secret operations. Al-Qaeda is still active today, despite the allowing of trading and buying these diamonds.

Social Impact on Angola due to blood diamonds.

The UNITA and its members are not the ones who are directly mining the diamonds. Thousands of poor miners, men and even young boys, in Angola make a living out of searching for diamonds with shovels in illegal mines. They work from morning until evening, and most of the time they come out of the mines empty handed. The conditions are harsh and unforgivable because there aren’t any government permits issued to regulate the safety of the mines. Miners and their families have said they are routinely beaten and shaken down for bribes by soldiers and private security guards. They are even killed for these conflict diamonds. The Angolan government is ruthless when it comes to removing the diggers from the illegal mines. In an interview with a woman who had her two sons killed in the mines, she reported that, Angolan soldiers descended on a large mine to chase away diggers. When some refused to leave, the soldiers caved in the mine, burying alive about 45 men, including her son who was 21. The soldiers said that the killings should serve as a lesson to anyone who wants to come dig here again. Diamond mining also contributes to public health problems. The sex trade is very apparent in many diamond mining towns, leading to the spread of HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases.

-Economic impacts

Economic Impacts in Angola

The diamond mines were the place that held most of the wealth in Angola. There were many wars going on in Africa so the countries needed a way to pay for them, Resulting in the illegal mining of blood diamonds. A rebel group called the Revolutionary United Front based in Angola, smuggled the blood diamonds into other neighbouring countries which were then sold in world markets. These diamonds paid for weapons, transportation, food, and other necessities for the rebel groups. The rebel groups earn about 200 to 250 million dollars annually from the blood diamonds.

-Environmental impacts

Environmental impacts in Angola

Mass diamond mining in Angola has caused soil erosion, led to deforestation, and forced local populations to relocate.

In extreme cases, diamond mining can cause entire ecosystems to collapse. Diamond miners in the Kono district of eastern Sierra Leone have left behind thousands of abandoned mining pits. Wildlife has vanished and land once suitable for farming is now a desolate landscape. The mining pits have also created a public health disaster. When the pits fill with stagnant rainwater, they become infested with mosquitoes, spreading malaria and other water-borne diseases.