A recent report suggests that in parts of Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) and Central Africa Republic (CAR), armed groups are being funded who wage a war against the local communities. Along with Namibia and Angola, Zimbabwe is reported to support DRC to fight off rebels who in turn are backed by Uganda and Rwanda. DRC is rich in gold and diamonds that are plundered for the war efforts by the governments of both sides. High government officials have unduly profiteered from this catastrophe, which have taken an estimated 5 million lives.
Local communities of Africa are suffering due to mining activities in the region. United Nations estimates that around 1 million people have fled the war torn region. The wealth from diamonds trade is not contributing to the development of the region or its people. CAR ranks 180 and DRC ranks 186 out of 186 in the UN Human Development Index.
Another report from Chiadzwa province of Zimbabwe, home to seven diamond-mining companies, states that local villages are displaced from their homes to make way for new mines. The community school was destroyed, water levels are running low and deforestation means there is very little firewood for the villagers to sustain themselves. Few villages were relocated but potable water is not available. People have to walk long distances to get water, education or medical supplies. Simon Mukwada, a local villager said “We were better off without this diamond mining.”
Initiatives like Kimberley Process have not been successful in preventing sourcing of diamonds from conflict areas and incidents of theft, smuggling point to fact that we cannot be sure that the diamonds on the market are not causing a humanitarian crisis on the face of earth.
A diamond’s price is determined by its grading on 4Cs – Color, Cut, Clarity and Carat. However, there is a cost that is borne by society and environment while mining these diamonds. Perhaps it’s time to add another C to the price of a diamond – Conflict. More stringent processes to disclose diamonds’ sources have to be developed and enforced by all parties involved in the diamond trade.