SIERRA LEONE - The War dependant on Diamonds
Diamonds were discovered in Sierra Leone in the 1930s and since this time have been the cause of ongoing conflict in the region. This nation relies on the mining of diamonds for its economic base, but despite being rich in mineral resources, the majority of its people live in poverty. Between 1991 and 2000, the country experienced a bloody civil war between the rebels Revolutionary United Front (R.U.F) and the government. Many academics believe that the sustained civil war, which lasted for almost a decade, was due to profits gained from the illegal sale of diamonds. The government has struggled to control corrupt mining and the fighting that has ensued from their sale. In 2002, Sierra Leone's finance minister stated that he would "sometimes find [him]self defeated when want[ing] to find an answer to the diamond problem." (BBC (2002) [Accessed 16 June])

Dating back to early 1992, the R.U.F, seized Kono, the diamond mining capital of Sierra Leone. To maintain control of the diamond mines, the rebels chopped off the hands and feet of many civilians, including children. (The Independent (2010) [Accessed 16 June]) Control of Sierra Leone's diamond industry was the primary objective for war. The breakdown of all state structures occurred and as a result, the trafficking of arms and ammunition began to be a driving force of the civil war. Diamonds were used to fund the arms to be purchased in the first place. The it has been said that the war in Sierra Leone is 'simply about diamonds.' (Lujala, P (2005) p 539) United Nations passed Security Resolution 1306 on 5 July 2000, in which a ban was imposed on the direct or indirect import of rough diamonds from Sierra Leone, which were not controlled by the Government through a Certificate of Origin regime. (Nnane, E (2007) [Accessed 16 June])

The Kimberly process and other international efforts have attempted to curb the violence in Sierra Leone but from reports available, most of these efforts are yet to improve the situation. Rebels are continuing to control the diamond extraction process in Sierra Leone and fund their actions. (UN (2001) [Accessed 16 June]) It has been stated that diamond mining still brings little revenue to help improve the economy and fight poverty. In 2006, the government only received 3 percent of all the total exports of diamonds. Currently, Sierra Leone is still a very fragile country, with there being high rates of unemployment, corruption and poverty. A UN report blamed has the diamond trade in Sierra Leone for "destabilizing the country for the better part of three decades, stealing its patrimony and robbing an entire generation of children". (The Independent, (2000) [Accessed 16 June]) lacyrichmond/africa-map.gif
An amputee in a wheelchair sits in front of a diamond dealership. Despite its natural resources, Kenema is one of the poorest and least developed areas of Sierra Leone.
Miners in Sierra Leone searching for Diamonds in a mining dam.,1