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The United Nations Mission in Liberia, UNMIL, has expressed grave concern over the rate of uncontrolled and unmonitored diamond mining activities in Liberia.

Reports monitored on BBC's African Network indicate that rampant mining activities are increasing in Liberia and that the proceeds might be used to finance a fresh round of fighting in this troubled West African sub region. There are fears that a war in neighboring Liberia might have a spillover effect on Sierra Leone. The UN observers have spoken of small scale as well as sophisticated mining operations by Liberians, in spite of UN sanctions against trade in Diamonds by Liberia.

The UN's fears could be justified in the light of recent developments in Ivory Coast, TOGO and, to some extent, Guinea, where there are real threats of instability, and dissidents in those countries might fuel their hidden agenda with proceeds from diamond trade.

It could be recalled that UNAMSIL in Sierra Leone faced a similar problem in Kono, when returnees mined diamonds indiscriminately just as disarmament was being completed.

The situation in Liberia is slightly different from Sierra Leone's in the sense that Liberia's ex- President and indictee of the Special for Court for Sierra Leone, Charles Taylor, is still in Nigeria despite calls from the International Community that he be handed over to the court in Sierra Leone for trial.

And recent reports of suspicious movement of ex-combatants to Ivory Coast via Liberia, apparently destined for Guinea, whose President, Lansana Conte, escaped an assassination attempt recently, make the matter more worrisome.


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