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The Diamond Mystique  |   Conflict Diamonds  |   Diamond Trading  |   The Democratic Diamond

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Jenna Sandy was abducted as a child and spent years with the rebels. Photo: D. George

PART II Conflict Diamonds in West Africa      Page 1  2  3  4

Sierra Leone's Children

Some of the most intriguing information about how the rebels get their diamonds out of the country comes from Sierra Leone's children.

Near the town of Bo, there is a camp for children who have escaped from the rebels or have been released. The R.U.F. abducted thousands of children during the war. They turned most into soldiers, some they use for sex. Others slave in the diamond mines of the Kono districtů. where the biggest and most valuable stones are found. The rebels have held this area since 1997.

A young woman introduces herself in Krio, an English-based Creole. "My name Jenna Sandy, 18 years old."

Jenna Sandy was abducted as a child and spent years with the rebels. She finally escaped and made her way back home. She says besides their own mines, the rebels often sweep down on subsistence miners and rob them. And, she says she often saw visitors who arrived in small planes to do business with the rebels.

"The rebels used to say they were giving the diamonds to Poppy. Poppy is the rebel leader, Foday Sankoh," says Jenna. "So when they gather these diamonds, white people come with Poppy and in exchange, they give them food items or ammunition."

Now, the rebel leader Foday Sankoh sits in prison in the capital, Freetown. He was captured last year. And the government is trying to staunch the flow of blood diamonds with computers and sealing wax.

Next: Weak Links Along the Diamond Chain