Washington DC, September 25, 2002 – Communities in Cameroon affected by the World Bank-financed Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline together with the Center for Environment and Development (CED) / Friends of the Earth (FoE) Cameroon filed a claim today with the World Bank Inspection Panel. (1)

The claimants charge that several World Bank policies are violated during the ongoing construction of the pipeline, which traverses their villages, lands and, in the case of the Bakola ‘pygmy’ communities, their traditional hunting areas in the coastal rainforest. The claim includes cited violations of World Bank policies on Natural Habitats, Indigenous Peoples, Environmental Impact Assessment, Poverty Reduction, Public Disclosure and Consultation and Project Supervision.

The affected people complain of polluted water sources, loss of crops and forest land, failure to compensate for negative impacts to the communities, violation of labor rights, and health problems –especially HIV/AIDS- related to the influx of workers and job seekers in the communities.

“The World Bank touts the Chad-Cameroon oil pipeline as a model project that will reduce poverty while compensating for environmental impacts. Our new Inspection Panel claim demonstrates the failure of World Bank rhetoric to match reality,” said Samuel Nguiffo of CED/FoE-Cameroon.

ExxonMobil is the pipeline project sponsor together with Chevron and Petronas of Malaysia. The project is supported by the World Bank, US Export-Import Bank, Coface of France, the European Investment Bank and a consortium of banks led by Dutch ABN-Amro.

Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) – the world’s largest grassroots environmental network – is challenging the World Bank’s ongoing support of fossil fuel and mining projects at the International Monetary Fund and World Bank Annual Meetings this week in Washington. More than 150 civil society organisations have endorsed an appeal initiated by FoEI calling for an immediate phase-out of all financing for fossil fuel and mining projects by international financial institutions.

World Bank investments in the extractive industries have benefited large multinational corporations but failed to help the poor, a violation of the Bank’s mission of poverty alleviation and sustainable development. Representatives of communities from Cameroon, Peru, Romania, Nigeria, and Georgia who are directly affected by World Bank projects are in Washington this week to challenge the World Bank’s ongoing support of fossil fuel and mining projects.

Samuel Nguiffo of CED/FoE-Cameroon 917-501-9340
Johan Frijns, international financial institutions coordinator, FoEI: 917-676-9906
Niccolo Sarno, Media coordinator, FoEI: 917-531-1971
John Son, Friends of the Earth US: 720-308-7482

(1) The Inspection Panel is a three-member body created in 1993 to provide an independent forum to private citizens who believe that they or their interests have been or could be directly harmed by a project financed by the World Bank.