Cameroon and Chad are making efforts to tighten border security to stop the illegal flow of rough diamonds said to be coming from neighboring Central African Republic (CAR), where armed Christian and Muslim groups may be using the funds from the diamonds to continue to wage war against each other.
Cameroon's mining minister Emmanuel Mbonde told the Voice of America that his government has taken measures to address the growing problem, including deploying more border staff to identify all diamonds coming into and leaving the country to assure that they are Kimberly Process-certified.
Cameroon was admitted to the Kimberley Process Certification Scheme (KPCS) in August 2012. Meanwhile, CAR was temporarily suspended from the scheme last May, until further review. In the KP's final communique from its November 2013 Plenary in South Africa, it acknowledged that the security conditions in CAR are not conducive for organizing a Review Mission and do not provide guarantees for preserving the integrity of the chain of custody of diamonds. At that time, the Plenary requested the KP Chair to liaise on a continuous basis with the United Nations in assessing the situation on the ground, and specifically called on Cameroon, the Republic of Congo and the Democratic Repbulic of Congo to continue sharing their export data and pictures of rough diamond shipments on a monthly basis.
"If it is established that diamonds are actually leaving Central Africa [Republic], entering the commercial circuit through Cameroon, Cameroon will be suspended just like Central African Republic. That is why there is need for sub-regional consultations. How do we make sure that diamonds do not really contribute to fuel conflicts," Jaff Napoleon, a member of the KPCS civil society, told the VOA.
Napoleon also told VOA that Chad, not a KPCS member, is aware that the international community will impose sanctions if rough diamonds smuggled from CAR are allowed to pass through its territory.
The conflict in CAR began 15 months ago, with Muslim fighters and Christian groups attacking each other. The United Nations and humanitarian agencies report that more than 1,000 people have been killed and one million others have been displaced by the violence.