The British-based charity Christian Aid called on oil companies Thursday to suspend operations in Sudan because of atrocities it blamed on the Sudanese government and "sponsored militias".
The charity said that tens of thousands of civilians have been killed or displaced in a policy to drive them from oil fields in Sudan.
In a report called "The Scorched Earth: Oil and War in Sudan" the group also calls for oil giants Shell and BP to get rid of their shares in companies which it claims are complicit in human rights abuses.
The report "presents eyewitness testimony showing that Sudanese government forces and sponsored militias are mounting a systematic 'scorched earth' strategy in and around the oilfields where foreign companies operate," Christian Aid said.
"Tens of thousands of civilians have been killed and displaced by a systematic policy of depopulating the oil-rich areas," said Mark Curtis, the charity's head of policy. "Each time an oil concession is developed, it is accompanied by massive human rights violations."
He added that foreign oil companies operating in Sudan "should immediately suspend operations until an agreement for a just and lasting peace is achieved.
"After numerous authoritative reports demonstrating the scale of the disaster, they cannot continue to turn a blind eye to the atrocities being carried out in the name of oil."
BP has a 2.2 percent holding in PetroChina, whose parent corporation, the Chinese state-owned China National Petroleum Corporation (CNPC), is a major operator in Sudan, said Curtis.
"Oil giants BP and Shell have an indirect stake in Sudan through their investments in two CNPC subsidiaries," said Curtis. He added: "We believe that BP is risking its reputation through its association with CNPC.
"Christian Aid calls on BP and Shell to divest their holdings and on the UK government to introduce legislation to ensure that British transnationals are not directly or indirectly complicit in human rights violations."
Christian Aid funds projects in some of the world's poorest countries and aims to help their inhabitants to tackle the causes of poverty and injustice.—AFP.
©--Agence France Presse 2001.
© 2001 Mena Report (www.menareport.com)