Diamond Trafficking Still Financing CAR Conflict

Diamond SmugglersBangui: The smuggling of diamonds from the Central African Republic (CAR) into neighbouring Cameroon and Chad is said to be fueling the country’s internecine conflict.

The export of diamonds from CAR was banned in May 2013 by the Kimberley Process, after the country plunged into chaos in March 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by “anti-balaka” Christian militias.

Reuters quoted a confidential report by an expert panel that monitors U.N. sanctions as saying that the illicit trade in diamonds was still funding major players in the conflict and “increasingly involves” Cameroon and Chad.

The role of Cameroon in the conflict diamond trade was not stated and authorities in the West African country were not directly implicated in the trade.

“Despite a decline in violence by anti-balaka elements in the southwest, some anti-balaka continue to be involved in the illicit exploitation of diamonds,” the panel said in the report quoted by Reuters.

“Diamond mines in the (sub-prefecture) of Amada Gaza (Mambere-Kadei province) are violently contested between anti-balaka and armed Peul.”

Both sides in the conflict were said to be profiting from the illicit trade in diamonds. About 140,000 carats of diamonds, valued at $24 million had been allegedly smuggled out of the country since the 2013 ban, the report claims.

The panel of experts recommended that the Security Council urge transitional CAR authorities to suspend diamond-trading houses that purchase the gems from areas “under direct or indirect control of armed groups.”