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Rift Valley Institute

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As gold fuels Darfur conflict, activists push for more Sudan sanctions

… One new group of people has flocked to Darfur in recent years: gold miners. From all over Africa, they have left their families, homes and countries, heading to a largely forgotten war zone to dig for gold. Activists with interest in Sudan are now suggesting the U.N. and the U.S. level new, acutely targeted sanctions against key gold industry figures, as international buyers appear undeterred by revelations about its human costs…

A gold mine worker gets his raw gold weighed at a shop in Al-Fahir, Sudan, in 2013. The miners and the Darfuris that live near the mines are often subject to violence and exploitation. REUTERS.“The government was looking to enter as a buyer,” said Suliman Baldo, a Sudanese scholar at the Rift Valley Institute. “It didn’t seek to contain the conflict and didn’t hold anyone responsible from the auxiliary forces that attacked the Beni Hussein people. They let things happen … then send in companies that buy gold [and] take it to Khartoum.”

At the refinery in Khartoum, gold from across Sudan is blended into a single product and sold without labeling association to any mine or region. Buyers cannot distinguish between gold sourced from Jebel Amer in northern Darfur and gold from the country’s northeastern mines, which are relatively untouched by the kinds of conflict seen in Sudan’s west and south. As a result, campaigners say, whether intentionally or not, the country’s export customers are funding a thinly veiled war enterprise.

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