Liberia

UNMIL hands over diamond office to Liberian government following lifting of sanctions

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UNMIL PR 48

Monrovia, Liberia - Following the Security Council's recent lifting of the sanctions on the export of Liberian rough diamonds, the Special Representative of Secretary-General, Alan Doss, on Tuesday, 1 May, handed over a regional diamond certification office to the Government of Liberia at a ceremony in Tubmanburg some 50 kilometres west of the capital, Monrovia.

During the ceremony, Liberian President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, referring to the troubled history of the diamond industry in this part of Africa, said, "We have tried to reverse the trend so this natural resource could be put to good use for the development of our people." She expressed appreciation to international partners, including UNMIL and the American Embassy in Liberia for the parts they played in regularizing the industry.

Later in the day, the Government Diamond Office at the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy in Monrovia was also dedicated.

SRSG Doss remarked at the ceremony in Tubmanburg that, "These events mark another major milestone in Liberia's turn away from violence and conflict and its return to the community of law abiding States." He further noted that the handover of the regional office would be "the departure point to revitalize the diamond industry in Liberia".

Stressing the need for the industry to become a source of prosperity for all Liberians, Mr. Doss recalled that diamond mining was a hard way to earn a living. He urged that those who participated in the industry, especially miners, should also be allowed to enjoy some of the benefits through initiatives such as the diamonds for development scheme.

Minister of Lands, Mines and Energy, Dr. Eugene H. Shannon, declared his Ministry's commitment to stop the illegal entry and exit of diamonds in Liberia and to combat any attempts at smuggling. He said the Government Diamond Office was established to "authenticate the trail" of diamonds before they were exported.

The American Ambassador, Donald Booth said he was glad that the Security Council resolution had been passed as Liberia could "recapture the benefits from its diamond resources so they could be of benefit to all Liberian people".

Liberia still has four months to go before completing the remaining requirements of the Kimberley process certification scheme. The Security Council imposed the sanctions on Liberia more than six years ago to stop the illicit trade of diamonds from Sierra Leone.

Also attending the ceremonies were Bomi County Superintendent, Mohammed A. Massalay, KPCS Adviser to Liberia, Tyrone Gaston, KPCS focal point in the Ministry of Lands, Mines and Energy, Deputy Minister A. Kpandel Fayia, and UNMIL Chief of Civil Affairs, Zainab Bangura, among other dignitaries.