New oil project in Peru threatens to harm indigenous peoples

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A general view of the Human Rights Council in session. Photo: Jean-Marc Ferré

A new oil project on heavily polluted land in Peru would violate the human rights of indigenous peoples, according to two UN human rights experts.

The warning comes as the Peruvian Government decided to start re-licensing an area of land in the Department of Loreto region for oil production, which the UN experts say would make "an awful situation worse".

In 2013 and 2014, the Peruvian Government declared environmental and health emergencies in the region following oil spills.

Meanwhile, the UN Human Rights Office (OHCHR) says an agreement between the State-owned oil company Petroperu and indigenous communities had been signed to clean up land and water heavily polluted by 44 years of oil activity.

The UN experts said Peru must adopt measures to fix the situation and to protect the rights of people to their land and resources.

Recent official studies show high levels of contaminants in the water and soil, including mercury, lead, aluminium, and arsenic.

According to the Peruvian Ministry of Health, 98 per cent of children in the affected communities surpass the admissible levels of toxic metals in blood.

Stephanie Coutrix, United Nations.

Duration:  1’14″

 

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