Artisanal diamond miners at work in open pit mines in Koidu-Sefadu (Kono) in eastern Sierra Leone. 2nd August 2011
Artisanal diamond miners search for alluvial diamonds in open-pit mines near the town of Koidu-Sefadu (Kono), Sierra Leone. What came to be known as 'blood diamonds', and their proceeds, played a significant role in perpetuating Sierra Leone's brutal civil war which only ended in 2002. Despite depleted diamond deposits thousands of artisanal miners continue to work in extremely tough conditions in search of the precious stones. Standing for hours at a time in muddy water they sift through gravel and sand in the hope of finding the increasingly elusive ticket out of the poverty still widespread in Sierra Leone.