Model to meet Bushmen as diamond row goes on

Supermodel Lily Cole is travelling to Botswana to visit the Kalahari Bushmen as she decides whether to remain the face of De Beers after the charity Survival International made her aware of their plight.

The charity, which campaigns for the rights of indigenous peoples, claims that De Beers' mining practices have led to the eviction of the Bushmen from their land. It contacted Cole, who was said to be "unaware of these matters" when she was booked for a De Beers photo shoot, in a bid to dissuade her from working for the diamond merchants.

Now The Independent has reported that the model wants to make up her own mind and is planning to meet several Kalahari Bushmen during her visit.

A spokeswoman for Survival International said: "If she is being taken by De Beers, she won't discover anything. So we hope to try and brief her beforehand." The charity said it would be writing to the supermodel before she leaves.

A spokeswoman for De Beers said she did not know of Cole's trip.

Cole is not the first model to question an association with De Beers.

Iman did the same last year, again after the charity contacted her. Other celebrities have joined the campaign against De Beers, including Bianca Jagger and actress Julie Christie.

Survival International also targeted the Natural History Museum's Diamonds exhibition, which is co-sponsored by the Diamond Trading Company, the sales and marketing arm of De Beers.

The charity said that when it asked the Natural History Museum to include the experiences of the Bushmen in the exhibition, its request was turned down.

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