20 December 2012

Liberia: Millions Smuggle Out of Liberia Daily

Dozens of foreign nationals, among them Malians, Nigerians, Guineans, Ivorians and dominantly Sierra Leoneans have invaded the country's rich diamond areas thereby robbing the country of millions on a daily basis in smuggled rough diamonds.

The head of a local environmental group, Green Advocate's Alfred Brownel told the BBC Wednesday that the lack of political will from the government to put in measures that will curtail this invasion, foreigners continue to smuggle about US3-4m worth of diamond on a monthly basis.

Mr. Brownel's comments come in the wake of the latest UN Panel of Experts report which claims that thousands of foreign nationals are living and mining rough diamonds without permission.

These foreigners often come in conflict with locals. The UN's Panel of Experts on Liberia submitted a report to the body's Security Council stating that over 10,000 citizens of neighbouring Sierra Leone are mining illegally in Liberia.

The UN report states that there are confrontations between native Liberians who are issued exploring and mining concessions and Sierra Leoneans who cross the border to mine covertly. The report's authors fear that these confrontations could flare up into serious conflict, according to Diamond Intelligence.

The report also notes that diamond traders in Sierra Leone will pay more for stones that their colleagues in Liberia. This phenomenon accounts for the fact that most of the illegal mining activity taking place in Liberia goes on in areas like the Grand Cape Mount, Gbarpolu and Lofa counties, owing to their proximity to the country's borders with Sierra Leone, Guinea and Cote d'Ivoire.

The UN report also come following threat that the United States Agency for International Development or USAID would phase out its funding for a program aimed at helping the government to improve its compliance with the Kimberley Process, in light of the government's own weak-hearted commitment to the plan.

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