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Last Updated:  Monday, 24 February, 2003, 12:10 GMT
Bushmen 'moved for diamonds'
By Alastair Leithead
BBC, Southern Africa

The Botswana Government has denied that an increase in diamond prospecting in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve is anything to do with the forced removal of thousands of indigenous people from their ancestral land last year.

The government says it wanted to provide better services to the Bushmen
The San, or Bushmen, were moved out of the reserve, the government says, in order to give them access to better public services.

But the London-based pressure group Survival International says their removal was linked to diamond mining and believes that now the people have gone, the prospecting has begun.

Only a handful of bushmen still live in the Central Kalahari Game Reserve, an area in Botswana the size of Denmark, after the last 2,000 indigenous people were moved from their homes last year.


The government cut off their water supplies and took them by truck to permanent settlements outside the reserve in order, it said, to provide them with proper public services.

But there is evidence they were forcibly removed.

Survival International questioned the government's motives, suggesting that mineral rights were a major reason for the removals.

Bushman settlement
The Bushmen were forcibly evicted last year

Latest geological maps from the Botswana Government released by Survival show a huge increase in diamond prospecting in the months since the people were moved, some of it funded by an offshoot of the World Bank.

This appears to back up their accusations.

But the government has denied there is a new rush for diamond exploration in the reserve and labelled Survival International a "terrorist" organisation, re-emphasising that the movement of people was with their best interests at heart.

This long-running dispute goes on as the last of the Kalahari bushmen struggle to keep their traditional way of life.



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