Global Policy Forum

Africa's Diamond Wars


Africa's Gems: Warfare's Best Friend

By Blaine Harden

New York Times
April 6, 2000

Across vast stretches of Africa, diamonds fuel war. Diamonds are so lucrative for predatory governments and marauding rebels that war has become a useful cover for hugely profitable smuggling enterprises. For millions of Africans who happen to get in the way, diamonds are agents of terror.

The rough stone emerges from the African soil at fortress-like mines in the war zones of Angola or straight from the muck of a dammed-up river in Congo. After journeying across continents and oceans, after being graded, cut, polished and set in gold along the way, a diamond lands in a display window in Manhattan, transformed into a pricey symbol of eternal love and beckoning to brides-to-be. The journey can take months or even years. To enforce the myth that diamonds are rare and valuable, most of the world's rough stones are hoarded in London and then carefully fed back into the world market.

De Beers, the South African conglomerate that controls two-thirds of the world's rough diamonds, decides how many will be sold, when, to whom and at what price. Where they are mined responsibly, as in Botswana, South Africa or Namibia, diamonds can contribute to development and stability. But where governments are corrupt, rebels are pitiless and borders are porous, as in Angola, Congo or Sierra Leone, the glittering stones have become agents of slave labor, murder, dismemberment, mass homelessness and wholesale economic collapse.

While market manipulation guarantees their price in world markets, the portability and anonymity of diamonds - millions of dollars worth can be smuggled in a sock, and identifying where they came out of the ground is often impossible - have made them the currency of choice for predators with guns in modern Africa. "You can't wage war without money, and diamonds are money," said Willy Kingombe Idi, who buys diamonds from diggers in Congo. "People are fighting for money. Everything that happens, it's about money."

De Beers estimates that only 3 percent of global rough diamonds now come from conflict areas in Africa, according to Andrew Lamont, a company spokesman who repeatedly said it was difficult to define a conflict area. But Christine Gordon, a London-based journalist and independent diamond expert who has been critical of De Beers, said that as recently as the mid-1990's, diamonds from African war zones accounted for 10 to 15 percent of world supply. In any case, violent goings-on in diamond-rich Africa have done nothing, thus far, to change the consuming habits of Americans, who buy more than half the world's diamond jewelry. Sales jumped about 11 percent last year. Diamond sales are also booming around the world, with De Beers showing record sales last year of more than $5 billion.

Digging in the Mud

At the bottom rung of the international diamond trade, the need to scrap together enough money to eat sends Africans like Mati Balemo clawing through the mud of a Congolese stream bed. Mr. Balemo is a digger. On a recent morning, he and six other diggers set off from Kisangani, in north-central Congo, traveling first by bicycle taxi and then on foot. Along the way, a soldier armed with a stubby machine gun demanded to come along. But he hired another bicycle taxi, which took a spill on a hill, pleasing the diggers. They arrived after three hours at a small stream where the thick canopy of bamboo and vines made the early afternoon as dark as twilight. The diggers had been working this site for a month and had found only a few diamonds. They used shovels to dam off small sections of the stream. Then they heaped mounds of mud onto the bank. They picked out big rocks from the mud and sifted through what was left with metal screens nailed to wooden frames.

Diggers like Mr. Balemo are driven by the dream of one stone that will change their lives. For weeks or months they work bent over in shallow rivers or in pits. In three years as a digger, the biggest diamond Mr. Balemo ever found was a stone of 2.16 carats worth $800. That diamond, if it were of flawless color and clarity, could retail for as much as $10,000 in New York, experts say. Mr. Balemo split his $800 with five fellow diggers. Miki Galedem, 30, another digger who started when he was 16, once found a monstrous stone of nine carats. He was paid $4,800. But he was young then, in 1993, and the money disappeared, he said, on "beer and women."

Standing in a pool of water stilled by mounds of mud, the diggers professed not to think much about their business - where the diamonds go, who wears them and at what price. "Diamonds are beautiful," Mr. Balemo said. "Everyone wants to be beautiful. That is normal." He was knee-deep in the stream, and had been sifting mud - a brown stew with pebbles and quartz - for an hour. Suddenly, he found a diamond. He popped it in his mouth to clean it and then showed off a shiny white stone half the size of a raisin. His friends clapped, and one digger guessed that traders back in Kisangani would pay $20 at most for the stone. "I'm very glad," Mr. Balemo said, not smiling much. This was the first diamond in nearly a week. "It's not much money for all that work." The soldier with the stubby machine gun, who had been watching closely from the river bank, then came over and took the diamond. He folded it into a scrap of paper backed with gold foil and stuffed the packet into his chest pocket. By the rules of Congo, the guy with the gun got the diamond. Even when the stones are taken from the ground using the most sophisticated equipment, the game is roughly the same.

Financing the Arms

In northeast Angola, the Catoca diamond mine - one of a half dozen such sites in that Texas-sized country - is an island of modernity in a sea of civil war. Huge earthmovers gouge out the diamond-bearing earth and feed it into a sorting plant, where water, electric vibrators and X-rays separate out about $8 million worth of diamonds a month, an amount expected to quadruple as the mine expands. The diamonds are stored in a high-security sorting room before they are flown to Europe. As technicians grade the uncut stones, Israeli-trained security guards watch from every angle to make sure that no one slips a rock into his pocket. The mine has satellite TV and 24-hour Internet access, but the only way in or out is by air. To protect employees from attack, they are locked inside the mine's gates every night by guards with automatic weapons.

Until four years ago, the men with guns were rebel soldiers working for Unita, the Angolan rebel group led by Jonas Savimbi. Delfi Rui, a 39-year-old digger, recalled seeing rebels whip an elderly man who refused to dig. He said they had threatened to shoot those who would not give them at least half the diamonds they found. The Angolan military took Catoca from Unita in 1996, and within two years modern mining began atop one of the planet's largest veins of diamonds. The mine now employs 1,100 Angolans and has the potential to anchor an economic revival in a part of the country where there are no other industries, no money for war reconstruction and no government services. Jobs at the mine are expected to last for at least four decades.

But the persistence of fighting in the area means that men with guns still find ways to milk the diamond business. A private security force controlled by the chief of staff of the Angolan Army, Gen. Joí£o de Matos, protects Catoca. About 300 armed guards, most of them former Angolan soldiers, have staked out a fortified perimeter around the mine. They charge $500,000 a month to protect the mine from Unita. Since they were chased away from the mine, Unita soldiers have stayed in the area and terrorized the local citizenry with hit-and-run guerrilla raids. They have forced about 56,000 nearby civilians from their homes. Most are destitute. Land mines have maimed many. Without international food aid, they would starve.

Unita's behavior led the United Nations to impose a diamond embargo on the group in 1998, making it the only African rebel force subjected to such action. For years, the United States and the white government of South Africa supported Unita, an acronym in Portuguese for the National Union for the Total Independence of Angola, as a counter to the Moscow-backed government in Luanda. But with the end of the cold war and of apartheid, Unita lost its military patrons. International isolation deepened when Mr. Savimbi, its leader, lost an election in Angola 1992. Rather than accept a vote foreign observers judged free and fair, Mr. Savimbi returned to the bush and resumed war against the Angolan government. His fighters seized control of the Cuango River valley, Angola's richest diamond territory, and began a major mining operation that more than compensated for the lost cold-war aid, and made them the richest rebels in Africa.

Diamond money paid for Unita offensives that in the 1990's elevated Angola's civil war to a new plateau of savagery. Highland cities like Cuito and Huambo were all but flattened by artillery shells. More than half a million Angolans were killed. Land mines maimed about 90,000. Fighting displaced 4 million Angolans, and about 1 million continue to depend on foreign food aid. The United Nations Children's Fund now ranks Angola as the worst place on earth to be a child. At Andulo, Unita's headquarters in the central highlands of Angola, Mr. Savimbi personally haggled with arms merchants and diamond traders who flew in from Europe. The rebel boss bargained using small bags of diamonds, each of which contained several million dollars worth of gems, according to Robert R. Fowler, the Canadian ambassador to the United Nations and chairman of a committee that investigated violations of the embargo against Unita.

"If the price was $22 million, Savimbi would reach down for four of those bags and two of those," Mr. Fowler said. "The arms dealers had their diamond experts, and Savimbi had his, and they would inspect the diamonds to see if they really were worth $22 million. And then they haggled some more and somebody would throw in an extra bag of diamonds, and off the arms dealers flew." Mr. Savimbi became a major buyer on the international arms scene. Giant Russian-made Il-76 cargo planes made as many as 22 deliveries a night at Andulo, said Mr. Fowler. The primary source for most of the arms was Bulgaria, the report said, although Bulgarian officials deny it.

The United Nations waited nearly six years before imposing an embargo on Unita diamonds, even though there was never any doubt what Mr. Savimbi was doing with his little bags. With an estimated $3 billion in legal diamond sales, he built Unita into a highly mobile war machine with 35,000 well-armed troops. By the early summer of last year, Unita seemed on the verge of toppling the government in Angola. The rebels were turned back only because the government went on a $500-million weapons-buying spree of its own, financed by Western oil companies that paid the government more than $900 million for rights to new offshore oil finds. Although Unita's sales of diamonds are down sharply from the mid-1990's, the United Nations report said gems continued to play a "uniquely important role" for the rebels.

Making a Wasteland

There is no United Nations embargo on diamonds from Congo or Sierra Leone. Hunger for looted diamonds is a major reason why six other countries have sent soldiers into Congo. Angola, Namibia and Zimbabwe have sent troops to protect the government of Laurent Kabila, while Burundi, Rwanda and Uganda have sent soldiers to assist rebels trying to overthrow him. Altogether, they have succeeded in shattering much of the economy of eastern Congo, transforming Kisangani, the major city of eastern Congo, into a gaudy and ghostly ruin.

The streets of Kisangani are nearly empty of cars. The textile plant is closed, and the once-thriving port on the Congo River is quiet. Apart from spotty electricity from a hydroelectric dam, there are hardly any public services left. Public salaries go unpaid. Prices have soared. The only businesses that seem alive are those buying diamonds from diggers coming in from the dense forest that encircles Kisangani. To catch their eye, storefronts have been dressed in garish paint that shouts the names of diamond buyers like Mr. Cash, Jihad the King of Diamonds and Jehovah Ire, run by one Papa Samuel, "in connection with Jesus Christ." One store is painted with an image of Rambo, his machine gun replaced with a shovel. Inside the diamond shops it is possible to see hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of stones. Shop owners say the diamonds are often flown out of Congo to Rwanda or Uganda, as commanders from those countries reward themselves for their revolutionary efforts.

"What do you think is the reason for this war?" asked a diamond buyer named Papa Ben, who plies his trade in Kisangani. "It's only about the riches of this country." Only about a third of Congo's annual diamond production is being sold through the country's official market, according to diamond experts in Antwerp. They say the rest is being smuggled away for sale in bordering countries. By far the biggest diamond prize in the Congo is more than 1,000 miles to the southwest of Kisangani, near the city of Mbuji Mayi. Diamond experts say President Kabila has allocated a substantial percentage of that huge diamond complex to Zimbabwe, which has sent 11,000 troops to prop up Mr. Kabila's wobbly government.

So Zimbabwe has recently become a major diamond exporter, although it has a negligible local industry. With their eyes on the prize at Mbuji Mayi, large numbers of Congolese rebels and supporting troops from Rwanda began massing about a year ago to the north and east of the city. If they take the diamond mines there, many military experts believe, Zimbabwe would lose its will to fight and Mr. Kabila's government would probably fall.

Allying With Smugglers

In Freetown, the capital of Sierra Leone, the surgeons were frantic. Scores of men, women and children, their hands partly chopped off by machetes, had flooded the main hospital. Amputating as quickly as they could, doctors tossed severed hands into a communal bucket. The Revolutionary United Front, a rebel outfit that barters diamonds for weapons, was trying early last year to conquer Freetown. Chopping off limbs was their trademark strategy, as it greatly simplified conquest in the diamond fields of eastern Sierra Leone. When word got out that rebels were moving in, tens of thousands of terrified people would take off. The rebels chased half the country's population of 4.5 million out of their homes in the 1990's. Half a million people fled the country.

One day during last year's carnage in Freetown, a diamond trader approached a reporter at the Cape Sierra Hotel. He stuck out his tongue and from beneath it plucked out a stone, which he offered to sell. When the sale did not happen, the trader popped the diamond back in his mouth and moved on. In fact, most of Sierra Leone's diamonds were - and still are - smuggled into neighboring Liberia for sale, according to several human rights groups and diamond industry experts. The leader of the Sierra Leone rebels, Foday Sankoh, has established a lucrative partnership with his longtime Liberian friend, Charles Taylor, the rebel-boss-turned-president. Both had training in Libya, both their rebellions began in the late 1980's, and their armies have helped each other fight.

Mr. Sankoh's access to the world's diamond bourses and to arms was secured when Mr. Taylor was elected president of Liberia in 1997. The Liberian government denies this trade, as does Mr. Sankoh. But a number of diplomats, international relief officials and mining experts say there is persuasive evidence. Liberia was a marginal exporter of diamonds until the mid-1990's. Since then it has it exported some 31 million carats - more than 200 years' worth of its own national capacity, according to trading records in Antwerp. After Mr. Sankoh failed to take Freetown last year, he signed a peace deal granting his rebels amnesty for war crimes. The deal, which was brokered by the United Nations, also gave him a government job - chairman of the Strategic Minerals Commission, which controls diamond mining.

Part Two

Making Diamonds Work

Diamonds need not lead to horror. Botswana, the world's largest diamond producer, is one of the most stable and prosperous countries in Africa. The diamond industry there employs nearly a fourth of the country's 1.5 million people and accounts for two-thirds of government income. De Beers and the government control the industry in a 50-50 partnership, but there is far more to the country's success than corporate paternalism. For starters, the borders of Botswana, unlike the borders of so many countries in Africa, make sense. Inside the borders, there is ethnic and linguistic unity. There is also a long history of democratic decision-making.

Traditional chiefs rarely take action without first consulting ordinary villagers, who are invited to speak freely. It also helped that Botswana gained independence peacefully. The country was so poor that the British decided it was not worth fighting for, so it was never inundated with guns or soldiers. When De Beers discovered diamonds in Botswana in 1969, the government had been independent for three years, and the men running it were traditional chiefs who owned cattle. They came from a desert culture where people have to scrimp and save to survive the long, dry season. During three decades, Botswana's leaders have carefully guided what became the world's fastest-growing economy. They invested in roads, schools and clinics. In stark contrast to the rulers of Angola and Congo, they created an African nation devoted to improving the lives of its people. In 1965, only about half of primary school-aged children attended school. Today, 90 percent of that group is enrolled. Life expectancy, which was less than 50 at independence, is now near 70.

Phones work in Botswana, potholes get repaired, garbage gets picked up, and a lively press pokes fun at the government without fear. At $3,600 per year, the gross national product per capita is seven times higher than the average for sub-Saharan Africa. The standard of living is higher than in South Africa, Turkey or Thailand. "Diamonds are not devils," said Terry Lynn Karl, professor of political science at Stanford and author of "The Paradox of Plenty," (University of California Press, 1997), a book about the poisonous mix of natural resources, big money and thieving elites in developing countries. "What matters is that there be a tradition of good government and compromise in place prior to the exploitation of these resources."

Exploiting a Continent

The miseries of modern Africa are, in many ways, a legacy of its history. In the case of both Angola and Congo, colonialism obliterated whatever political culture may have predated the arrival of Europeans. It invented huge, largely fictive nations - Angola is the size of Texas, Congo of the United States east of the Mississippi - roping together people who regarded one other as foreigners. To make their nation-building pay, colonialists used force to haul off everything from ivory to rubber to human beings.

In Congo, the Belgian colonial state was famously greedy and cruel. Its agents set impossible quotas for production of rubber and ivory, killing or chopping off the hands of villagers who failed to meet them. The novelist Joseph Conrad called it "the vilest scramble for loot that ever disfigured the history of human conscience." In Angola, the Portuguese were less brutal, but no less toxic. At independence in 1975, several hundred thousand Portuguese residents, virtually the entire educated population, abandoned the country. Some took even their doorknobs with them. They left behind a place where almost no Angolans had any training in statecraft, business or agriculture. Then for the better part of the last 50 years, the cold war and the white-minority governments of southern Africa injected cash and arms into regional wars.

The Central Intelligence Agency, for instance, supported Unita in the early 1970's and again in the late 1980's. The Marxist government of Angola received military assistance from the Soviet Union and up to 50,000 troops from Cuba. When the C.I.A. was not helping Unita, the rebels got military backup from white-ruled South Africa. Sierra Leone, a small country in West Africa, had a more benign colonial history under British rule. But since the 1940's, predators who smuggle diamonds have warped every aspect of the nation's economic and political life. The meddling of colonialists, superpowers and white governments all but stopped at the start of the 1990's, leaving diamonds, oil and other natural resources as the primary forage for rebels and governments.

In those countries where there was nothing to trade for weapons - as in Mozambique, where post-apartheid South Africa stopped financing rebellion and post-Communist Eastern Europe stopped financing the government - war simply fizzled out. But Angola, Congo and Sierra Leone had plenty of diamonds left over to excite greed, fuel war and to buy favors. The United Nations report on the embargo against Unita described how Mr. Savimbi gave a "passport sized" packet of diamonds to the president of Togo, Gnassingbe í‰yadéma, as payment for allowing his children to live in Togo and go to school there. Togo has denied it. Mr. Savimbi "sealed" his friendship with the president of Burkina Faso, Blaise Compaoré, by giving him a number of envelopes full of diamonds, as well as contributing to his political campaign and helping his government pay debts, according to the report. In return, it said, Burkina Faso sent Mr. Savimbi three flights of diesel fuel. The government of Burkina Faso denies that. "Oh, the diamonds, diamonds, diamonds," said a character in Graham Greene's "The Heart of the Matter," a 1948 novel set in Sierra Leone. "You cannot understand how many bribes are necessary."

Manipulating Scarcity

De Beers created its cartel 110 years ago when the company's founder, Cecil Rhodes, realized that the sheer abundance of diamonds in southern Africa would make them virtually worthless. By carefully manipulating scarcity, De Beers prospered as perhaps the most powerful cartel in the annals of modern commerce. In the process, however, De Beers has run afoul of antitrust laws in the United States. The company's senior executives dare not enter this country because of an outstanding antitrust indictment that charges De Beers with fixing the prices of industrial diamonds. The company's grip on the diamond market has slipped a bit from near-total dominance at mid-century, but it has continued to keep the price of gem-quality diamonds high by being both aggressive and flexible. Through the years, it has sponged up periodic floods of diamonds from Russia, Australia and, until recently, across parts of war-ravaged Africa where it does not own all the mines. Together with the artificial perception of rarity, what makes diamonds profitable to more than 2.5 million miners, traders, cutters and wholesalers around the world - and what energizes the $50-billion-a-year retail diamond jewelry industry - is romance.

That, for the most part, is also an invention of De Beers. In 1938, De Beers hired a New York advertising company to convince millions of couples that the larger the diamond on an engagement ring, the greater their love. In the 1960's, a similar campaign in Japan created a diamond engagement ring "tradition." Diamonds spilling out of Angola's war zone have had a destabilizing effect on the cartel, first by increasing the supply of gem-quality stones and then by tarring the reputation of De Beers as a company that trafficked in blood-stained goods. To maintain world prices, De Beers bought up a sizable amount of what Unita was selling - although the company insists that it bought the diamonds on the open market without any direct dealings with the rebels, and that it stopped all buying when the embargo was imposed in 1998.

Global Witness, a London-based human rights group, embarrassed De Beers in October of 1998 with a report that showed - citing the company's own annual reports - how the cartel had pumped large amounts of money into the coffers of the rebels as the war escalated. A year later, De Beers took decisive action. The company declared last October that it would not buy any diamonds that originate in Angola, except from one government-controlled mine. Some diamond experts said De Beers' announcement, while laudable, came late - after Unita, having exhausted the easy pickings in Angola's alluvial mines and having lost considerable territory to Angolan government forces, could no longer roil the world market with high quality stones.

De Beers moved again last month to sanitize the image of the diamonds it sells. As of March 26, the company says it can guarantee that none of its diamonds originate with African rebels, but come instead from its own mines in South African, Botswana or Namibia, or are bought from mines in Russia or Australia. Human rights groups have welcomed De Beers' moves and praise the company for taking steps they say the entire diamond industry should follow. Rebel-mined diamonds, though, can still find their way out of Africa. About a third of diamonds imported into the United States are purchased from traders who are not employed by De Beers and are not bound by its new rules.

Tracing the Stones

Near Antwerp's train station, police barricades seal off three narrow streets. In warren-like rooms above the streets, men hunch over precision turntables, grinding rough diamonds to coax forth shapes and colors that lure wholesaler jewelers to Belgium from around the globe. Eight out of 10 of the world's rough diamonds - about 125 million carats a year - pass through Antwerp's Diamond Center. But exactly which of those stones come from war zones in Africa is something Antwerp's experts say they find hard to tell. Michael Vaughan, managing director of the Diamantkring, one of the four exchanges in Antwerp, said that his business depended on trust, and that if diamonds have been smuggled by African rebels and re-packaged elsewhere, "we don't know about it." Many diamond traders in Antwerp do not particularly want to know where the stones come from. A recent United Nations report complained of "extremely lax regulations" at the world's largest diamond bourse in Antwerp. A Canadian human rights group, Partnership Africa Canada, calls Antwerp "a diamond smuggler's dream."

Belgium has objected to the report, saying it ignores major moves in January to set up tougher customs inspections and a new certification system with the Angolan government. But it is not just Belgium. According to the United Nations report, Antwerp is flooded with diamonds exported from countries passing off smuggled diamonds as their own, complete with false, but official, certificates of origin. The experts say those countries include Liberia, Uganda, Rwanda and Zimbabwe. One way to keep rebel-mined diamonds off the world market would be to impose a diamond embargo on African countries known to be exporting smuggled stones. Thus far, though, there is little enthusiasm in the United Nations for such a move. "It is tough enough in Angola, believe me," Mr. Fowler said. Human rights groups and some members of Congress are also calling for a mandatory diamond-labeling system. One proposal calls for a worldwide ban on sales unless diamonds have verifiable documents proving country of origin. A bill introduced in Congress last year would require similar documentation for diamonds sold in the United States. Representative Tony P. Hall, an Ohio Democrat, and Representative Frank R. Wolf, a Virginia Republican, introduced the bill after seeing the horrors of war in Sierra Leone. "The world looked the other way in Angola for most of the 1990's, while revenues from diamond sales were used to butcher innocent civilians," Mr. Wolf said. "We should not stand by as the same thing happens in Sierra Leone and Congo. We should do whatever it takes to cut off the flow of money."

The diamond industry in the United States objects to the proposals. "There is no way to tell where a diamond comes from," said Eli Haas, president of the Diamond Dealers Club of New York. "Diamonds don't have identifying marks and probably never will. You just can't look at a diamond and say, yes, it comes from Sierra Leone." That may be changing. De Beers says that it is "actively pursuing" a diamond fingerprinting technology being developed by the Royal Canadian Mounted Police at a forensic laboratory in Ottawa. Using lasers, the technology tries to identify chemical impurities that are characteristic of diamonds from a particular country. Before it can work, though, a huge database containing the fingerprints of the world's diamonds would have to be gathered and a method of industrial testing would have to be devised. "Identifying them is going to take many years," said Andrew Bone, a De Beers spokesman in London. "Most international experts believe that the techniques are not yet sufficient to allow the tracing of individual stones. Nevertheless, we are committed to helping in any way we can."

Buying Love Tokens

It appears likely, then, that a trickle of diamonds from the war zones of Africa will continue to leak into jewelry stories, at least until technology, international law or a heretofore unseen vigilance in the diamond industry finds a way to stop it. De Beers insists that the chances of buying such a diamond are infinitesimal. "There is less than a one-in-a-hundred chance that any single stone will come from conflict areas," said Mr. Bone, the De Beers spokesman. Despite such assurances, the window remains open for African rebels. Smugglers in Sierra Leone and Congo have ready access to the third of the world diamond market that De Beers does not control. And Unita, although its diamond dealing is down sharply from the mid-1990's, is still selling between $80 million and $150 million worth of stones a year, according to the most conservative estimates. To perk up sales, Unita held a sale last year, military experts said, marking down rough-diamond prices by a third.

The perceived need to own a diamond appears, if anything, to be increasing. On a recent Sunday afternoon, Tracy Scholl, of Suffolk County, Long Island, stood with her fiancé, Mike Sabatino, at an engagement ring counter on 47th Street in the diamond district of Manhattan. "When you get engaged, you get a diamond," Ms. Scholl said as Mr. Sabatino, an electrician from Staten Island, warily eyed a one-carat ring that cost $5,500. "It is what you are supposed to do." And Africa? "I want to say that I would not want a diamond because of that stuff in Africa, but I guess that's not really true," Ms. Scholl said. "Me not buying a diamond is not going to stop what is going on over there."

This article was reported by Alan Cowell in Zambia and Belgium, Ian Fisher in Congo, Blaine Harden in Angola and New York, Norimitsu Onishi in Sierra Leone and Congo, and Rachel L. Swarns in Botswana.

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