Thursday, August 02, 2007

Diamond trade resumes in Liberia

Liberia on Monday resumed diamond trading after lifting a self-imposed ban on the gems, officials said.
"The moratorium was lifted this morning and we are now receiving applications for broker licences," Deputy Mines Minister Kpandeh Fayah said.
The embargo imposed four years ago had been in line with a United Nations ban on the country's diamonds, blamed for fuelling a barbaric 14-year civil war in the resource-rich West African nation.
President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf re-launched diamond mining in May just days after the UN ban was removed.
Sirleaf said re-opening industrial diamond mining would generate jobs in a country reeling under a post-war unemployment rate of 85%.
"The lifting of the moratorium will alleviate the problem of unemployment in Liberia," Sirleaf said on state radio.
Convinced that the war-scarred nation had made progress in ensuring international safeguards in the diamond trade, the UN in April scrapped a blockade imposed in 2003 on Liberian raw diamond exports.
It was another UN vote of confidence in Johnson-Sirleaf's administration following the lifting in June last year of an embargo on Liberian timber.
The government has pledged to strictly abide by the conditions set by the UN to ensure the gem does not slip out of the tight international control system.
Trafficking in illegal "blood diamonds" is considered to have been one of the root causes of civil war, not just in Liberia but also in neighbouring Sierra Leone, where a 10-year brutal conflict ended in 2001.
Liberia's former leader and warlord, Charles Taylor, is standing trial at the Hague for war crimes committed in Sierra Leone. -- Sapa-AFP

Diamond trade resumes in Liberia : Mail & Guardian Online