- Children as young as 11 are working alongside adults in the ‘blood diamond’ trade in the Central African Republic
- The chain of supply crosses so many country borders that most people don’t know where their diamonds originated
- Thousands of children as young as nine work in ‘absolutely terrifying’ conditions in gold mines in the Philippines
- Hard-hitting reports into the diamond and gold trade released by Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch
The jewellery around your neck and on your fingers is still being dug out of the earth by slave children facing extreme danger, two new hard-hitting reports have revealed.
Amnesty International has released a stark warning that the global diamond market is about to be flooded with ‘blood diamonds’ prised from mines by children as young as 11.
Meanwhile, thousands of children as young as nine are being forced to work in horrifying underground and underwater mines at depths of up to 25m in the Philippines, according to Human Rights Watch.
In the Central African Republic (CAR), children as young as 11 have been found working in ‘back-breaking’ conditions in the diamond mines.
The export of diamonds from CAR was banned in 2012 under the Kimberley Process, which aims to stem the flow of so-called ‘conflict diamonds’ into the global market.
‘Blood diamond’, or ‘conflict diamond’, is a term used for a diamond mined in a war zone and sold to finance rebel or militia groups or a warlord’s activity.
Diamonds have funded brutal wars in countries such as CAR, Angola, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Liberia and Sierra Leone over the decades, resulting in the death and displacement of millions of people.
But according to Amnesty International as soon as the government meets a series of conditions, that were set by the Kimberley Process in July this year, the ban will be lifted and the blood diamonds will be free for trade once again.
Diamonds have continued to be traded within CAR despite the ban, with thousands of small artisanal miners selling to traders who then sell on to export companies in the capital Bangui, according to the report.
Many of these ‘conflict diamonds’ remain stockpiled in the capital city, waiting for the trading ban to be lifted, and are ‘highly likely’ to be sold on the international market.
‘Non-governmental organisations have reported child labour at diamond mines and Amnesty International found several children, including an 11-year-old boy, working in hazardous conditions,’ reads the report.
However, despite calls from numerous organisations, the scale of the child labour problem has never been examined.
‘The hard physical labour causes hernias and exhaustion, and injuries are common,’ according to a 2010 report by International Crisis Group.
‘Miners die under collapsed pit walls, and divers sometimes do not resurface. Many miners and their families leave their villages to live in makeshift camps near the mines, where they are even more vulnerable to malaria and often contract parasites by drinking from streams dirtied by their own excrement.
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