Cameroon involved in Central Africa ‘blood diamond’ trade: U.N. experts – by Louis Charbanneau (Reuters U.S. – September 1, 2015)

UNITED NATIONS – 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 U.N. 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 U.N. 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.

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.

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