Brussels, October 29, 2001 – This morning, Friends of the Earth International (FoEI) staged a protest in front of the hotel Metropole at Place de Brouckere in Brussels. Twenty miners sealed off the area in front of the hotel entrance, which was then declared a mining area. Visitors to the hotel and onlookers were ordered to immediately vacate the area as the hotel was going to be demolished to make way for gold mining operations financially supported by the World Bank. Banners carried by the protesters read ´World Bank clean up! Get out of Oil, Mining and Gas´
The protest was staged at the formal beginning of the World Bank Extractive Industries Review (EIR), which started today with a ´planning workshop´ in Hotel Metropole. The EIR, according to the World Bank, is a consultative process aimed at obtaining the view of stakeholders on the future role of the World Bank in the oil, mining and gas sector.
At a press conference later today in Brussels, FoEI stated that the World Bank has no future role to play in these sectors, as the projects supported by the World Bank do not contribute to its stated objective of alleviating poverty. Many World Bank supported projects even cause severe local environmental and social problems, lead to the uprooting of communities, and contribute to global climate change.
¨The claim of the Bank that poverty levels go down in countries relying heavily on extracting oil or minerals is a false one¨, said Johan Frijns, coordinator of the International Financial Institutions programme of FoEI.¨ Statistical evidence points to the opposite, with such countries generally ranking low on the UN Human Development Index¨.
Representatives of Friends of the Earth groups in Cameroon and Peru present at the press conference denounced the involvement of the Bank in projects such as the Chad Cameroon Oil Pipeline Project and gold and copper mining in Peru. Two video documentaries released by FoEI today show the negative consequences of these projects for local communities.
¨None of the promises of the Bank that this pipeline project will generate employment and reduce poverty has become true. Many communities along the proposed route only stand to lose from this project¨ said Raphael Yimga Tatchi of FoE Cameroon.
Gladys Marquez of LABOR (FoE Peru) urged the World Bank to reconsider its support for three mining projects in Peru. ¨Mining in my country is directly competing with, and jeopardising agriculture on which local communities depend for their livelihood¨
FoEI called upon the World Bank to declare an immediate moratorium on new projects while it is engaged in the Extractive Industries Review, as a first step towards a total phase out. The World Bank should also redirect its resources towards projects aimed at developing non fossil fuel energy solutions to meet the energy needs of Southern countries.
Johan Frijns, In Brussels 31 629593877, after Oct. 30 th in Amsterdam 31 20 6221369
More information, including the FoEI position paper: www.foei.org/ifi