In 2006 at Chiadzwa, in the province of Manicaland, in the eastern Zimbabwe lowlands, the Marange alluvial diamond fields were discovered, a vast area of 400 square miles of scrubland surrounded by mountains, and possibly the world's largest diamond field. (Alluvial diamonds are those found in streams and shallow rivers and therefore easy and cheap to mine as no infrastructure or expensive mining machinery is required.) The discovery was made by African Consolidated Resources (ARC), however for a country such as Zimbabwe, with its hyper inflation and empty coffers, the find was too much for its President to overlook. In October 2006, a year after legally securing the claim to the mining rights, Robert Mugabe, the Zimbabwe president, was facing unparalleled dissent from his army who were no longer getting paid, or what they were getting paid was virtually worthless. Faced with losing support of those who could keep him in power, he seized back ARC's mining rights and ceded them to the army and police in exchange for their on going support. The diamond field was a virtual licence to print money and the army then forced local villagers at gunpoint, including women and children, to mine for diamonds a situation that remains current.
TToday women and children are still being tortured by the army in their pursuit of diamonds although this is denied by the Zimbabwe government. Recently, in June 2010, the US Department of State released a human trafficking report denouncing the slavery of "men and young boys" at the mine site, a claim furiously denied by the Zimbabwean authorities. Yet a 2009 report from the Human Rights Watch" reported that some 300 children work up to eleven hours a day at the Marange diamond fields ~ without pay ~ digging in the soil and gravel then sifting in a pan for gemstones under the watchful guard of Zimbabwe soldiers. Many families have been forcibly evicted from Marange to make way for this diamond mining, with hundreds of them being relocated to such places as Arda Transau Farm, a former tobacco farm, where children have to live in barns without windows or ventilation.
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