Monday, January 22, 2007

Russia: Pipeline Projects Bring Oil, Sex Trafficking, AIDS

The Caucasus pipeline route

RUSSIA & THE CAUCASUS -- Two oil pipelines in Russia and the Caucasus boosted prostitution and poverty according to a recent report. Authors hope the findings will heighten awareness of gender-related development needs at this weekend's World Social Forum in Kenya.

When multinational oil companies first visited towns along the proposed routes for two new pipelines in Russia and the Caucasus they promised to create jobs, build schools and hospitals, and invest in small businesses.

What the local communities got instead was a large population of migrant men and an increase in pollution, disease, sex trafficking, poverty and sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV-AIDS, along the pipeline routes, with women carrying the brunt of the burden, according to a study by two nongovernmental organizations.

The groups came to these conclusions after visiting the affected communities in April 2006 and analyzing thousands of pages of documents relating to the roughly four-year construction period of the $3.2 billion Baku-Tbilisi-Ceyhan pipeline and the $20 billion Sakhalin II pipeline.

The Caucasus pipeline, which began flowing in May 2006 through Georgia, Azerbaijan and Turkey, is expected to transport 1 million barrels of crude oil daily from the Caspian Sea to the Mediterranean for the European market when it reaches full capacity.

The Sakhalin II, on Russia's Sakhalin Island, north of Japan in the Okhotsk Sea, aims to transport 340,000 barrels of oil equivalent daily. Production is anticipated to begin in 2008, with 60 percent of the oil and gas going to Japan.

The groups that authored the report are the Washington-based Gender Action and the Central and Eastern European Bankwatch Network, a coalition of environmental organizations headquartered in Prague, the Czech Republic. They are calling on the public aid banks that partially financed the pipelines--the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development and the International Finance Corporation, the World Bank's corporate lending arm--to adopt more stringent measures to protect local women for future projects...


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