Zimbabwe anger over US diamond ban

A file photo taken on December 14, 2011 shows a private security employee guarding a diamond processing plant in the diamond-rich eastern Marange region
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The Marange fields have long been at the centre of controversy

Zimbabwe's government has condemned the US' decision to ban its diamonds from entering the country on the grounds that they had been produced through forced labour.

The US's claim was a "shameless lie", and amounted to new sanctions against Zimbabwe's dfiamond industry, Information Minister Nick Mangwana was quoted by the state-owned Herald newspaper as saying.

The US embassy tweeted on Tuesday that the US Customs and Border Protection agency had issued a "Withhold Release Order" for artisanal rough cut diamonds from Zimbabwe’s Marange fields due to evidence of forced labour.

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Zimbabwe is in deep financial crisis, and the ban comes at a time when President Emmerson Mnangagwa is trying to improve relations with Western powers in a bid to boost the economy.

The industry's global watchdog body, the Kimberley Process, lifted a ban on Zimbabwean diamond sales in 2011, with the backing of the US and European Union.

The ban was imposed in 2009 following reports that Zimbabwean military officials were benefiting from the diamond trade and there had been killings and human rights abuses at the Marange fields.

See earlier post

Mining diamonds in Botswana
De Beers is investing to communities in Botswana as part of a diamond joint venture with its government.

Congolese migrants fleeing 'attacks' in Angola

The Angolan authorities say there's been no crackdown on the Congolese miners
Thousands of small-scale Congolese diamond miners and their families living in northeastern Angola have been crossing the border back into their country. They say they've been the target of attacks from the security forces there. Giulia Paravicini, a Reuters freelance journalist, has been reporting from one of the towns along the DRC-Angola border. You may find her testimony disturbing. 

(Picture: Congolese migrants expelled from Angola carry their belongings on their way to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Credit: REUTERS/Giulia Paravicini)