Cameroon involved in CAR 'blood diamond' trade - UN experts

2015-09-02 09:11

(Shutterstock)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

New York - Illicit trafficking of diamonds from Central African Republic into neighboring Cameroon is helping finance the continuation of a nearly three-year conflict, an expert panel that monitors the United Nations sanctions said in a confidential report.

Central African Republic (CAR) descended into chaos in March 2013 when predominantly Muslim Seleka rebels seized power, triggering reprisals by "anti-balaka" Christian militias who drove tens of thousands of Muslims from the south in a de facto partition of the landlocked country.

Although rival armed groups agreed to a peace accord in May, the conflict has continued at a lower intensity, and a transitional government has been unable to assert its authority over all of the vast, mineral-rich territory.

The export of diamonds from CAR was banned in May 2013 by the Kimberley Process, which represents 81 countries, including the United States, the European Union, Russia, China and all major diamond-producing nations. The group was formed to prevent so-called blood diamonds from funding conflicts.

In its interim report to the CAR sanctions committee, the UN Security Council's panel of experts said the illicit trade in diamonds is still funding major players in the conflict and increasingly involves neighboring countries such as Cameroon and Chad.

Illicit exploitation of diamonds

The panel has not previously highlighted the role of Cameroon in the conflict diamond trade. But the report does not directly implicate Cameroon authorities 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, seen by Reuters.

"Diamond mines in the [sub-prefecture] of Amada Gaza [Mambere-Kadei province] are violently contested between anti-balaka and armed Peul," the experts said.

Many Muslims from the Peul ethnic group were displaced by the war.

The panel has said that all sides in the conflict profit from the trade in diamonds. It estimates that some 140 000 carats of diamonds, valued at $24m, have been smuggled out of the country since the 2013 ban on the export of CAR's rough diamonds.

Its latest report said that diamonds from Amada Gaza were suspected to have been trafficked through Gbiti, a Cameroon border town. Other examples of cases the panel is investigating include diamond trafficking through the Cameroonian town of Kenzou, including a large, 40-carat stone.

Another involves the seizure of 160 carats of undocumented diamonds worth around $28,000 in Yaounde, Cameroon in April. These diamonds, the panel said, had been carried from Kenzou by two Indian nationals who recently visited Bangui, CAR's capital.

Precarious stability

Cameroon's UN Mission did not respond to a request for comment.

Armed anti-balaka elements, the panel said, are involved in illicit diamond exploitation at a number of mining sites.

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." It also said the council should urge neighbouring countries not to violate CAR's borders.

MINUSCA, the UN peacekeeping force in CAR, was deployed in 2014 to shore up the precarious stability established under the transitional government. A UN sanctions regime for Central African Republic, which includes an arms embargo, was set up in December 2013.

In May 2014, the Security Council blacklisted former president Francois Bozize and two other men, one of whom has since died. Last month it blacklisted the Belgian branch of CAR's diamond-trading company and three individuals linked to the conflict.

CAR presidential and legislative elections are scheduled for October 18. They have already been postponed several times, however, and the transitional government said on Tuesday the vote was unlikely to take place on time.

Read more on:    un  |  francois bozize  |  cameroon  |  central africa

Join the conversation!

24.com encourages commentary submitted via MyNews24. Contributions of 200 words or more will be considered for publication.

We reserve editorial discretion to decide what will be published.
Read our comments policy for guidelines on contributions.

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
0 comments
Comments have been closed for this article.

Inside News24

 
/News

Book flights

Compare, Book, Fly

Traffic Alerts
Traffic
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.




Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.