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Conflict Diamonds in Sierra Leone

            Africa plays host to the majority of the world's diamonds. Many of these diamonds are extracted from the country of Sierra Leone by warlords, and then become conflict diamonds. Conflict diamonds are diamonds that have been mined in a war zone, and that are sold to support insurgency, warlord interests, and invasion war efforts. The word conflict or "blood" diamond is mainly used when referring to the diamond trade because of the negative meaning that it brings, and for the effects it causes on the sale. .
             The violent conflict in Sierra Leone began with the discovery of diamonds in the country's eastern and southern districts. The Revolutionary United Front (RUF) intervened in the attempted overthrow of Sierra Leone's government, and took control of the areas that are rich in diamonds (Gberie, 2005). This coup led to civil war within the country. The Revolutionary United Front moved through the country destroying villages and towns, and forced many of the locals to mine for diamonds. These diamonds were then used to finance the war, because they could be traded for weapons, or for money to then purchase weapons and pay soldiers. Resisting the Revolutionary United Front was punishable by death. The Partnership Africa Canada performed a study on the number of casualties conflict diamonds have caused and concluded that an, "upwards of 50,000 [have been] killed, half the population displaced, and more than two-thirds of its already severely limited infrastructure destroyed" (Pervenia, 2005). The county's best method to putting a stop on the Revolutionary United Front's exportation of conflict diamonds was by the Sierra Leone Army's (SLA) ability to intercept foreign nationals smuggling them out of the country. The Sierra Leone Army was at first successful in holding back the Revolutionary United Front rebels, but eventually they recuperated and the fighting resumed.

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