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Found this while following the link from the Arafat article... 

How can this be allowed to continue? What can be done about it?


Africa's new bloodstained gems
Children dig for tanzanite, coltan in dangerous mines


By Anthony C. LoBaido
 2001 WorldNetDaily.com 

While human slavery is a fact of life in African nations like Mauritania 
and Sudan, Tanzania now is emerging as the latest center for the 
exploitation of child labor. 

Today, young children are forced to work in the country's mine, 
harvesting the valuable mineral resources of tanzanite, coltan and 
diamonds. Tanzanite, a semi-precious, purple-blue gemstone unique to 
Tanzania, was discovered for the first time 24 years ago by the Masai 
tribe. Its uniqueness and stunning beauty make it as sought-after and as 
valuable as diamonds. The resulting tanzanite mining rush lured 
thousands of Tanzanians and refugees from neighboring Congo, Rwanda and 

"Tanzanite  is torn from the volcanic rock of Mount Kilimanjaro in 
Tanzania by the tiny hands of African children," reports Dutch 
journalist Adriana Stuijt, a former anti-apartheid activist who 
maintains an anti-censorship website. Stuijt describes children working 
under the "most abominable mining conditions of the 21st century, 
digging away for coltan, the black mud of the Congo so essential for the 
world's cellphone industry." 

The United Nations has condemned the child-slavery practices at the 
coltan mines and blames the mines for fueling the civil wars plaguing 
the region. 

Reportedly, Amnesty International has also been petitioned to probe the 
dreadful working conditions and child slavery observed in tanzanite 
mines located in Arusha, Tanzania. 

"American jewelers import tanzanite to the tune of $300 million a year. 
Ninety-five percent of this is exported illegally from Tanzania via 
low-paid 'informal' miners. Many are children who are digging inside 
dangerous, unsafe homemade mineshafts for as little as $2 a month, or 
even just food handouts," Stuijt told WorldNetDaily. 

"Do the American women adorned with these stunning and unique gems even 
know that most of these were torn out by African children's hands, 
digging and hacking away at the Tanzanian volcanic rock  often forced 
to live in deep, unsafe mineshafts where many have already drowned 

"Until recently 'Tanzanian Rush' miners used mainly picks and shovels to 
dig out the gems," reports the South African Afrikaans language 
newspaper Beeld. "Individuals and groups of miners dig life-threatening 
shafts as deep as 300 meters, usually without any kind of supports or 
ventilation. ... On April 12, 1998, at least 100 miners drowned in such 
shafts, which had flooded during a terrible storm. And in 2000, flooding 
again drowned many." 

Beeld also reports prostitution, drug and alcohol abuse are rife; AIDS 
is a major problem; and there is no healthcare or sanitation. 

According to the paper, a trade union representative confirms that 
thousands of children work in the mines because they can move around so 
much easier in the narrow shafts. 

"Parents encourage their children to work there because there are no 
schools near the diggings," Martha Bitwale of the Tanzanian women's 
mineworkers association told Beeld. 

There is one exception to Tanzania's cruel trading game: A small 
proportion of the total tanzanite payload, $18 million worth, now is 
being mined safely and responsibly using modern safety techniques 
established by African Gemstones Ltd., or Afgem, a high-tech South 
African mining company that doesn't employ child labor. 

Afgem is a South Africa based company with offices in Johannesburg. The 
company received its mining concession from the Tanzanian government in 
mid-1999. Since January 2000, Afgem has mined 4,216 tons of tanzanite 
ore at its site at Mererani, northeast of Arusha. 

Despite having the government's blessing, Afgem encounters stiff 
opposition, as Beeld reported in August: 

"At the foot of Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, a South African mining 
company is mining a unique gemstone amidst great animosity from 
surrounding communities. At first sight, the mining compound looks like 
a military base in former South West Africa. High security fencing, 
razor wire, uniformed guards, guard dogs, guard towers. All for very 
good reasons ... 

"It's the old African story: Foreign investments and developments aren't 
welcomed by everyone  even if the mining company was invited and 
licensed by the Tanzanian government. Afgem's team was welcomed with 
open arms in fact by the Tanzanian government  but not by the 
40,000-odd local informal miners who are practically tearing the 
gemstones from the rocky soil with their bare hands." 

"Local miners believe we are stealing their daily bread," said a top 
Afgem official at the site. "They bear great animosity towards the only 
international group." 

The Washington Times reports that the Tanzanian government was 
unapologetic about child miners slaving at Arusha tanzanite mines, while 
trying to woo foreign investors gathered in Washington, D.C., in August. 

"Tanzanian Prime Minister Frederick Sumaye spared few superlatives  in 
trying to sell his East African country to an American audience as a 
haven for foreign investors," reports the Times. Sumaye "cited its 
low-cost labor, strategic location and a series of 'vigorous economic 
reforms' undertaken by President Benjamin Mkapa. These include the 
privatization of state-owned enterprises, relaxed rules on the 
repatriation of profits and reduced tax burdens. At a luncheon hosted by 
the Corporate Council on Africa, which seeks to bring together Americans 
and Africans for business opportunities, Mr. Sumaye boasted about the 
shift toward free markets and privatization after decades of a failed 
socialist experiment." 

"The Tanzanian government's big problem," reports Beeld, "is that very 
little money ends up in the national treasury because of the 
uncontrollable illegal trade. Official statistics show that Tanzania 
exports tanzanite valued at only $8 million annually, but the USA  the 
largest importer of tanzanite  imports $300 million annually." 

This thriving illegal trade is born on the backs of child slaves. Says 
Struijt, "If there was ever a crime against humanity, this is it." 


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