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Simon Taylor, Director of Global Witness
"There is a duty upon the oil companies to become more transparent"
 real 28k

Sunday, 5 December, 1999, 05:26 GMT
Oil firms 'funding' Angolan conflict
An oil worker in Angola Angola's offshore reserves are some of the largest in the world

By Africa correspondent Jane Standley

The British pressure group, Global Witness, has launched a campaign aimed at stopping Angola's lucrative oil revenue from being used to fund the long-running war there.

The prime targets of the campaign are British, French and United States oil companies, which the pressure group says should work together with the international community to promote transparency in where the money goes.

The group claims the money buys new weapons and goes into the pockets of Angola's super-rich ruling elite.

Angola's people are among the very poorest of the poor.

Starving to death

Some 80% are living below the poverty line, and they can hope to survive only until the age of 42.

An oil worker in Angola Oil revenues are being used by the government to fund the war
Some are starving to death in areas most affected by the war.

This, Global Witness says, is unacceptable in what is potentially one of the richest countries in the world.

Angola produces 750,000 barrels of superb quality oil a day and this is set to almost double in the next century, when recent discoveries are fully exploited by Western oil companies.

It is these companies that Global Witness wants to work in coalition with the international financial institutions, such as the World Bank and International Monetary Fund, to make sure that the Angolan people get to see at least some of their wealth.

State 'pilfering'

At the moment, the huge oil revenues are being used by the government, partly to fund the 30-year war against the Unita rebel movement, and to line the pockets of its senior members.

This year, the Angolan Government has received millions of dollars from the oil companies in exploration rights alone, but only half of the money is even recorded in its own records.

But now, the campaign group says, it is time to use international business as a lever to stop the war and the state pilfering.

It intends to make Angola a test-case for multi-national corporations, to make them stick to their policies on ethical behaviour.

Given the recent protests at the World Trade talks in Seattle, they may find some fertile ground.

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See also:
04 Nov 98 |  Africa
Oil fuels Angola's civil war
03 Jan 99 |  Africa
A war fuelled by the earth's riches
04 Dec 99 |  Africa
US envoy wants action against Unita

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