Conflict diamonds, gems that are illegally sold to fund civil wars and rebel conflicts, are in the spotlight this month with the release of 'Blood Diamond,' a movie based on this underground trade. Experts discuss the films impact on the diamond trade.
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For the diamond industry, the Christmas season should be the best and most lucrative time of year. But a new film, "Blood Diamond," has cast an unwelcome light on the dark side of the glittering trade, by highlighting the role of so-called "conflict diamonds" in fueling war and terror in a number of African nations.
LEONARDO DICAPRIO, ACTOR:
That diamond could be priceless! We split it, and you get your family. What's it going to be? Yes or no? Yes or no?
Leonardo DiCaprio plays an arms smuggler in hot pursuit of a giant diamond found and hidden by a villager, played by actor Djimon Hounsou. As the two seek both the stone and Hounsou's son, pressed into service as a child soldier, the film details the all-too-real toll exacted on the people caught in the middle.
The movie is set in the 1990s, amid the brutal civil war in Sierra Leone, where warring sides used the sale of diamonds on the international market to finance their purchases of weapons.
Abibatu Dainkeh, now 22 and part of a large refugee community in the Washington area, lived through that war. One day, rebels came to her town and threatened to burn her and her family out of their home.
ABIBATU DAINKEH, Sierra Leone Refugee:
Some of us ran, ran away. And, later at night, they still came back, and I was in the swamp, you know, watching my house getting burned.
At that time, I was running away because they were trying to take young girls that were even younger than my age and trying to rape them, and I didn't want to be a victim of that. So I had to run into swamps, into bushes, running on top of dead bodies, until, fortunately, I was able to save my life.