Aid agencies say profits from natural resources must go to source countries

 A global call to urgently address the problems caused by competition for natural resources like oil, gas, timber, diamonds and gold was made in Nairobi this week at the World Social Forum. The call is made following a two-day seminar, arranged by UK aid agency CAFOD, alongside a network of European and North American Catholic development agencies known as CIDSE, in which people from 60 organisations based in 30 countries, represented communities who suffer rather than benefit from their natural resources. "Time and time again oil, gas, mining and logging companies are violating the most basic human rights and environmental standards," said Rene Grotenhuis, vice-president of CIDSE. In a joint statement, the international and grassroots aid agencies urge transnational corporations, governments, the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and the United Nations to ensure that practical and enforceable steps are taken to regulate the extractive industries and hold companies to account for failure to comply with the highest international standards on human rights and the environment. The participants demanded that governments and transnational corporations gain the consent of the local people before extractive projects begin. Companies must also be transparent about the payments made to governments to end corruption and ensure profits from the natural resources are reinvested back into the communities they come from. Fr Alfred Buju a priest and former child miner in the goldfields of Mongbwalu, is now head of CAFOD's partner the Justice and Peace Commission in Bunia, DRC, said: "In my country, DRC, we have some of the richest goldfields in Africa and yet people are suffering from poverty and conflict as a result of competition for our natural resources. "There's never been a greater need to take action to address globally the problems associated with extractive industries." CAFOD's extractives analyst Sonya Maldar is attending the seminar with Fr Alfred Buju, Pedro Landa, deputy director of Caritas Tegucigalpa in Honduras, and two UK campaigners. The DRC and Honduras are the focus of the aid agency's Unearth Justice campaign, which aims to highlight the impact of gold mining on developing countries. . Maldar said: "Gold mining can devastate communities and the environment often with little benefit for local people. CAFOD's Unearth Justice campaign is putting pressure on the whole industry from retailers to suppliers to gold mining companies and governments to make changes. We want communities to have a say over what happens to their resources and whether a mine goes ahead or not. We also want companies to publish vital information about the social and environmental impacts of their operations and payments to governments. "By working together we hope to get mining and other extractive industries to bring about a better deal for affected communities." Source: CAFOD

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