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Frank R. Wolf, R-VA 10th
Mr. WOLF. Mr. Chairman, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL) has taken the leadership on this issue with regard to Sierra Leone. We visited Sierra Leone in the month of December.
This picture is of a young girl that we saw who had her arms cut off because of conflict diamonds. In Sierra Leone, the rebels have taken over the areas and are pursuing the war. And this picture is another young little girl with her arms cut off. They are pursuing the war by the sale of what they call conflict or blood diamonds.
On behalf of the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL), we offered an amendment, which was adopted unanimously by Republicans and Democrats in the subcommittee and not challenged in the full committee, to prohibit the importation of diamonds coming from certain countries, Sierra Leone and Liberia, where Charles Taylor in Liberia is doing terrible things, and Burkina Faso and other countries.
In the Congo, in the last 22 months, 1.6 to 1.7 million people have died. Thirty-five percent of these killed are under the age of 5.
So this amendment is here in order to stop conflict diamonds.
On this floor several weeks ago, this Congress voted not to send the money for U.S. peacekeeping. No one wants to send American soldiers. So there can be U.N. peacekeepers, at the minimum, which ought to prohibit the importation of what is called conflict or blood diamonds.
This is also in the best interests of the people of Sierra Leone but also the diamond merchants. Because if it ever gets out that every time a young woman or young man purchases a diamond, and 65 percent of the diamonds in the world are sold in our country, the American people do not want to buy blood diamonds, then I think the diamond market may very well be in trouble.
So, for this reason, we offer the amendment to stop this issue.
Keep in mind, too, the life expectancy in Sierra Leone is 25.6 years.
So I wanted to be heard. And I know my colleague, the gentleman from Ohio (Mr. HALL), wants to be heard on this issue and the distinguished chairman of the Subcommittee on African Affairs (Mr. ROYCE), who has been so good on this issue and has really focused on it, wants to be heard.
I do want to say that I understand the gentleman from Illinois (Mr. CRANE) will be making an announcement that he is going to hold a hearing. I personally want to thank him for his willingness to do this, which will help us after the August break to focus on the issue. So I want to personally thank the gentleman very much for his willingness to do this.
Mr. Chairman, I want to thank the gentleman from California (Mr. DREIER) for his help on this issue. I appreciate it very much. I also appreciate the help of the gentleman from California (Mr. ROYCE) on this issue. He has provided great leadership.