‘Conflict diamonds’ are precious gems that have been sold on the black market to finance violent rebel groups, terrorists or oppressive governments. They almost always originate from poor, underdeveloped countries located on the African continent. It is estimated that conflict diamonds account for up to 15 percent of the world’s traded diamonds. Their existence was first brought to the world’s attention by the international human rights organisation Global Witness, with its report on diamonds that were being illegally exported out of the war-torn African country, Angola.
Angola was gripped by civil war from 1992-2002. During this time, rebel groups, most notably the ‘National Union for the Total Independence of Angola,’ or UNITA, were unlawfully mining and selling much of the country’s diamond resources. This money was then used in part by the rebels to fund brutal attacks on innocent Angolans, and each other.
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