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Diamonds: Conflicting stories

Marange miners

The Naomi Campbell and Charles Taylor blood diamonds affair dominated the headlines for a considerable number of days.

There was plenty of talk and pictures of the events leading up to the diamonds being allegedly given by Taylor former President of Liberia to Campbell.

What we most certainly did not see was an endless stream of reports outlining the path that blood diamonds take in reaching western jewellers to satisfy the insatiable demand.

Reports confirmed by numerous Zimbabwean newspapers over the last few days – but not nearly as widely circulated as the Naomi Campbell and Charles Taylor story – are of diamond exporters from the notorious Marange region, an area well known for producing conflict diamonds using The United Arab Emirates as a means of bypassing officials.

It is believed that smugglers use United Arab Emirates as a conduit to bypass EU rules drawn up In Brussels aimed to prevent the exportation of blood diamonds and diamonds form conflict zones.

Zimbabwe cannot sell the Marange diamonds until Kimberley Process (KP) monitor Abbey Chikane certifies them for release on the international diamond market. The KP has so far allowed only two sales of Marange diamonds as part of an agreement held at a meeting in July.

A recent hoard of diamonds seized by Belgian authorities from Dubai despite bearing the KP stamp of approval, are believed to be smuggled diamonds from the Marange region – a region which several human rights groups monitor due to concern over conflict diamonds and enforced labour used in obtaining diamonds.

But this story has not been and will not be as widely circulated as the Campbell/Taylor saga, which, in certain quarters, says as much about the appetite for sensationalistic news as it does about the taste for the diamonds themselves.

By Richard Sudan

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