UN urged to stop Peru's deadly oil and gas rush

The UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous peoples has been urged to protect vulnerable uncontacted tribes in Peru, who could be decimated by contact with oil and gas workers.
The UN Special Rapporteur for indigenous peoples has been urged to protect vulnerable uncontacted tribes in Peru, who could be decimated by contact with oil and gas workers.
© Chris Fagan/UAC/ProPurús

Survival International has appealed to the United Nations Special Rapporteur on the Rights of indigenous peoples to help protect vulnerable uncontacted Indians from Peru’s aggressive pursuit of oil and gas development on their land – ahead of James Anaya’s visit to Peru.

The appeal is backed by nearly 130,000 Survival supporters who have urged Peru’s President to stop the invasion of uncontacted tribes’ land. Oil and gas projects already cover 75% of the Peruvian Amazon, putting foreign profits above Indian lives.

A consortium of companies led by Argentinian Pluspetrol is pushing for the expansion of the massive Camisea gas project in south-east Peru, which lies within a reserve for uncontacted and isolated tribes; and in northern Peru, Colombian-Canadian oil company Pacific Rubiales has begun seismic testing in an area known to be inhabited by uncontacted Indians.

Any oil and gas work on the land of uncontacted tribes puts the Indians’ lives at severe risk as they are exposed to diseases to which they have no immunity and which in the past have decimated entire tribes.

A consortium of companies are pushing for the expansion of the deadly Camisea gas project
A consortium of companies are pushing for the expansion of the deadly Camisea gas project
© A. Goldstein/Survival

In March 2013, the UN Committee for the Elimination of Racial Discrimination requested the ‘immediate suspension’ of the expansion plans for Camisea after Peru’s indigenous organizations AIDESEP, ORAU, FENAMAD and COMARU wrote to the Committee about the deadly expansion plans.

The work contravenes international and Peruvian law and the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which require the free, prior, and informed consent for any projects on indigenous land, and uphold uncontacted tribes’ rights to their lands and lives.

The Special Rapporteur will meet with Peruvian government officials and civil society organizations between December 6-13. Survival has urged him to raise the threats to uncontacted tribes with President Ollanta Humala.

Survival’s Director Stephen Corry said today, ‘The reserves for uncontacted tribes were created in order to protect some of the most vulnerable peoples on the planet but now Indian lives are being put at risk as Peru succumbs to gas fever. The government’s broken promises risk driving uncontacted peoples to extinction – and it’s all being carried out in the name of foreign profit.’

Note to editors:
- Download Survival’s letter to James Anaya, UN Special Rapporteur on the rights of indigenous peoples (Pdf, 360 kb)