According to Survival International, the United Nations recently demanded an immediate halt to the expansion of a major gas project in the Peruvian Amazon, over concerns that it poses a grave risk to the lives of uncontacted indigenous communities living nearby in protected primary rainforest.
The UN’s Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination (CERD) requested – in a letter to the Peruvian government – the ‘immediate suspension’ of plans to expand the existing Camisea gas project further into the Nahua-Nanti reserve, as it ‘threatens the physical and cultural survival of the indigenous peoples living there.’
The call follows an appeal by Peru’s indigenous organisations AIDESEP, ORAU and COMARU who are also launching legal action against the government and companies involved – including Argentina’s Pluspetrol, US’s Hunt Oil and Spain’s Repsol. Camisea is already one of the largest gas projects in the Amazon and, in its early stages, was responsible for the death of many Nahua people who had been previously uncontacted but exposed to outsiders during the exploration stage. Over half the population died within a few weeks of contact, mainly from influenza.
The proposed gas project lies in the heart of the Nahua-Nanti Reserve that was created to protect the land and lives of uncontacted Indians. The next stage for the companies is to carry out seismic tests in the once protected but now threatened rainforest and to drill more than twenty exploratory wells.
Based on all previous experience, the work involved would have a devastating impact on the local inhabitants and their environment.
In violation of a 2003 Supreme Decree (passed as a condition of a loan by the Inter-American Development Bank, which prohibited any further expansion of the project), Peru’s Ministry of Energy approved part of the expansion of Camisea in April 2012. According to reports, the Ministry is now set to approve the next phase of expansion, costing $480 million. The total project cost is in the region of $1.8 billion.
Source: Survival International