Sierra Leone Fears Blood Diamond Backlash

Officials in the West African country of Sierra Leone are warning new LEONARDO DiCAPRIO-starring movie BLOOD DIAMOND could scupper the state's postwar recovery. The movie chronicles the corrupt days of 'blood diamonds' in Sierra Leone during the 1990s, when the precious gems were used to finance civil wars and rebel activity which killed thousands of Africans. But government ministers are urging viewers to remember how the nation has progressed in recent years, rather than being put off by the gruesome scenes in the movie. MOHAMED SWARAY DEEN, Minister of Mineral Resources, says, "I am worried the film may be detrimental to the industry in Sierra Leone. "People need to know that when they are seeing atrocities, the country has moved very, very far away from the pictures they see in the movie. But the consumer might be affected by this." It is hoped the state's diamond supply could lift Sierra Leone out of poverty. The country currently has the world's highest rate of child mortality. Since 2001, the government has set aside a quarter of gem revenues for the Diamond Area Community Development Fund, which fosters development in mining areas.


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