Diamonds, Ivory Fund War in Central African Republic: U.S. Group


By Sarah McGregor, Bloomberg News

Date Published
Combatants in the Central African Republic are trading illicit ivory and diamonds for arms, fuel and poaching equipment that help stoke the country’s conflict, according to Enough Project, a Washington-based rights group.

Diamonds mined in the country are sold to traders in neighboring Sudan, Chad, Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo, researcher Kasper Agger said, according to an e-mailed statement today. His findings are contained in a report, “Behind the Headlines: Drivers of Violence in the Central African Republic,” based on interviews with fighters and their leaders and on satellite images, according to the statement.

The Central African Republic has been gripped by violence since mainly Muslim members of the disbanded Seleka militia seized power in March 2013, installing President Michel Djotodia. He stepped down this January as part of an effort to restore stability. Abuses prompted the creation of Christian anti-balaka gangs, which have added to the bloodshed. Thousands of people have been killed and more than 600,000 driven from their homes, according to the United Nations.

Possible international action to stem the violence includes a deployment of experienced mediators to spur peace talks and investigations by the International Criminal Court and other bodies, the rights group said.

The African Union and UN should also lead negotiations between the governments of Central African Republic and Chad for an agreement on exploration of oil fields that straddle their borders, according to the statement. Oil interests are “at the heart of the conflict,” the group said.