Brussels, June 21, 2001 – In an Appeal to the European Parliament and the Commission, representatives from Chad and Cameroon call on the European Union to suspend any support to the Chad Cameroon Oil Project “until guarantees are provided that all commitments are being met.” The appeal is supported by European organisations such as Friends of the Earth and Urgewald. “In practice, it means that the European Investment Bank should suspend the 144 Euro loans to the governments of Chad and Cameroon and to the Oil consortium.”, says Raphael Yimga of the Cameroonian Center for Environment and Development.
The Appeal follows the publication of the report “Broken Promises”, which assesses the commitments made by the project’s supporters to ensure, among others, that the revenues from oil production would be invested in poverty reducing programmes. The report concludes that, one year after the project was approved by the World Bank, “the predictions of NGOs have become true”, and that the project under current circumstances will not contribute to poverty alleviation.
Recent reports on violent crackdowns on opposition members their supporters after the Chadian elections have cast new doubts about the ability of the project sponsors to guarantee that the Oil Project will benefit the local population. All six opposition candidates have been arrested by the Chadian police and were kept for several hours. Some of them, among them Yorongar Ngarlejy who represents the oil producing region in Chad, was tortured and mistreated for several hours.
“The Deby Regime already spent the first money from the oil companies to purchase arms last year. At this very moment, people in the South of Chad continue to be harrassed and threatened by the Chadian government.” States Dobian Assingar of the Chadian Ligue of Human Rights. “How can the World Bank and EIB support a project that fosters conflict and enforces violence?”
At the time the report “Broken Promises” was published, Reuters on 20 June reported that another 600 million dollars had been arranged for the project by ABN Amro, Credit Agricole Indosuez and 16 other private banks, with the help of the World Bank in Washington.
“This should be a critical point for all sponsors and supporters to seriously reconsider this project”, says Susanne Breitkopf of Urgewald. “Instead, the World Bank seems to want to show the world that they will help the Deby Regime to speed up the oil exploitation at any cost. This is irresponsible and will only spur further violent conlflict in the country.”