Headline Feb 19, 2016/ ''' *OUR RED BLOOD* : * YOUR NEW DIAMONDS * '''

''' *OUR RED BLOOD* : 


IN AN AGE OF SUPPLY-CHAIN TRANSPARENCY, when 300 Rupees Latte  [or a $4 Latte] can come with an explanation of where the coffee was grown and how-............

BUT to student Mbuyi Mwanza, a 15-year-old who spends his days shoveling and sifting gravel in small artisanal mines, in southwest Democratic Republic of Congo, diamonds symbolize something much more immediate:
*the opportunity to eat something*

Mining work is grueling, and he is plagued by backaches, but that is nothing *compared with the pain of seeing his family go hungry*. His father is blind; his mother abandoned them  several years ago.

It's been three months since Mwanza last found a diamond, and his debts  -for food, for medicine for his father   -are piling up. A large stone, maybe a carat, could earn him $100, he says, enough to dream about going back to school, after dropping out at 12 to go to the mines   -the only work available in his small village.

He knows that of at least a dozen other boys from his community who have been forced to work in the mines to survive.

Mwanza's mine, a ruddy gash on the banks of a small stream whose waters will reach the Congo river, is at the center of one of the world's most important sources of gem-quality diamonds. Yet the provincial capital, Tshikapa, betrays nothing of the wealth that lies beneath the ground. None of the roads are paved, not even the airport's runway.

Hundreds of miners die every year in tunnel collapses that are seldom reported because they happen so often.

Teachers at the government schools demand payment from students to supplement their meager salaries. Most parents choose to send their teenagers to the mines instead. ''We do this work so we can find something that will let us eat,'' says student Mwanza.

''When I find a stone, I eat. There's no money left for school.''

Student Mwanza  here is talking about an  $81.4 billion a year industry that links the mines of Africa,  home to  65%  of the world's diamonds with the sparkling salesrooms of the high-ends jewelry retailers around the world.

It is an industry that was supposed to be cleaned-up, after the-turn-of-the millennium notoriety surrounding so-called blood and or conflict diamonds   -precious stones mined in Africa war zones, often by forced labor, and used to fund armed rebel movements.

In 2003 the diamond industry established the Kimberley Process, an international certification system designed to reassure consumers that the diamonds they bought were conflict free.

But more than  10 years  later, while the process did reduce the number of conflict  diamonds on the market, it remains riddled with loopholes, unable to stop many diamonds mined in war zones or under other egregious circumstances from being sold in the international markets.

And as student Mwanza's life demonstrates, diamond mining even outside conflict area can be brutal work, performed by low-paid, sometimes school-age miners.

''It's a scandal,'' says Zachrie Mamba, head of Tshikapa's mining division. ''We have so much wealth, yet we stay so poor. I can understand why you Americans say you don't want to buy our diamonds. Instead of blessings, our diamonds bring us nothing but misfortune.''

Given the ugly realities of the diamond business, it would be tempting to forgo buying a diamond altogether, or to chose, to purchase a synthetic alternative.

But Congolese mining officials say diamonds a vital income  - if not the only source-  for an estimated 1 million small-scale, or artisanal miners in Congo who dig by hand for the crystals that will one-day adorn the engagement ring of a bride  -or groom-to-be. 

''If you people stop buying our diamonds, we won't be able to eat,'' says Mwanza. ''We still won't be able to go to school. How does that help us?''

The Kimberly process has gone some of the way, yet a truly fair trade system would not only ban diamonds mined in the conflict areas but also allow conscientious consumers to buy diamonds that could improve the working and the living conditions of artisanal miners like Mwanza.

But the hard truth is that years after the term blood diamond breached the public consciousness, there is almost no way know for sure that you're buying a diamond without blood on it.

The Kimberly process grew out of a 2000 meeting in Kimberly, South Africa, when the world's major diamond producers  and buyers met to address growing concerns, and the threat of consumer boycott, over the sale of rough, uncut diamonds to-

Fund the brutal civil wars  of  Angola  and  Sierra Leone  -inspiration for the  2006 film  Blood Diamond. By 2003,  52 governments, as well as international  advocacy groups, had ratified the scheme, establishing a system of diamond  ''passports'' issued from the country of origin-

That would accompany every shipment of rough diamonds around the world. Countries that could not prove that their diamonds were conflict-free could be suspended from the international diamond trade.

The Kimberly Process was hailed as a major step toward ending diamond-fueled conflict. Ian Smillie, one of the early architects of the process and an authority on conflict diamonds, estimates that only  5%  to  10%  of the world diamonds are traded illegally now compared with 25% before 2003-

A huge boon for producing nations that have a better chance at earning an income off their natural resources.

But Smillie and other critics argue that the Kimberly Process doesn't go far enough. Unfair labor practices and human-rights abuses don't disqualify diamonds under the protocol, while the definition of conflict is so narrow as to exclude many instances of what consumers would, using common sense, think of as a conflict diamond.

Conflict diamonds under the Kimberly Process are defined as gemstones sold to fund a rebel movement attempting to overthrow the state  and only that-.

So when, in 2008, the Zimbabwean army seized a major diamond deposit in eastern Zimbabwe and massacred more than 200  miners, it was not considered a breach of the Kimberly Process protocols.

''Thousands had been killed, raped, injured and enslaved in Zimbabwe, and the Kimberly Process had no way to call off these conflict diamonds because there were no rebels,'' says Smillie.

The Honour and Serving of the  ''World Poverty Operational Research''   continues. Thank You all for reading and sharing forward.

With respectful dedication to the Students, Professors and Teachers of Africa. See Ya all on !WOW!  -the World Students Society and the Ecosystem 2011.

''' Life Support '''

Good Night and God Bless

SAM Daily Times - the Voice of the Voiceless


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