Today, June 1, International Children’s Day, Crude Accountability, the international coalition, Children or Oil? and the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law remember the untenable situation in which the children of Berezovka, Kazakhstan find themselves. Suffering from toxic emissions from the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, which poisoned the community on November 28, 2014, the children were diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy likely caused by exposure to hydrocarbons and their fumes. However, doctors in Uralsk, Kazakhstan in May of this year failed to recognize the diagnosis, although they acknowledged the girls were seriously ill. The girls have not received the necessary and prohibitively expensive medicine, and in Kazakhstan they have only been offered substitute medicines which could be dangerous in their situation.
In March of this year, Albina Iskakova and Alina Kuzmangalieva, two of the most seriously ill children of the village, underwent full diagnostics at the Semashko Children’s Center for Diagnostics and Treatment in Moscow, Russia. The funds for their trip were collected through the campaign, “Children of Berezovka: It is Time to Help!” According to the doctors at the Semashko Clinic, the girls require long-term treatment over the course of many years. The details about the diagnosis and recommended treatment can be read here. Although the Kazakhstani doctors have now stated the girls are seriously ill, they remain silent about the cause.
We demand that the companies comprising the KPO consortium (Chevron, ENI, Kazmunaigaz, Lukoil, and Shell) and the Kazakhstani government take responsibility for the tragedy, ensure that all of Berezovka’s children who suffer from toxic poisoning undergo diagnosis and treatment and are compensated for the damage to their health.
For more than three years, state clinics in Kazakhstan failed to diagnose the suffering children of Berezovka with toxic encephalopathy or poisoning and did not provide any treatment. The authorities and the KPO, BV consortium, which operates at the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Field, denied responsibility for the tragedy and failed to compensate the children for damages to their health. A criminal case, which had been opened to investigate poisoning of the children, was closed because of the “absence of a crime.”
“Currently, we need money to buy medicine for the girls abroad, for them to undergo regularly scheduled monitoring, and take annual trips for observation by the doctors at the Semashko Center. Taking into account the negative reactions of the Department of Health and the Prosecutor’s Office Western Kazakhstan Oblast [where the girls live] regarding the diagnosis of the Moscow doctors, and the demand for an impartial and effective investigation of the criminal case regarding the poisoning of the children, their parents are counting on help from caring people. The medicines that the children need are not available at no cost in the local medical establishments, and the substitute medications that have been proposed are not effective in treating this disease,” said Sergey Solyanik, consultant to Crude Accountability and co-coordinator of the Children or Oil coalition.
“If the international consortium and our authorities do not want to conduct an impartial investigation to understand the cause of the children’s illness and acknowledge their responsibility and heal those who are suffering, then perhaps the public can do it,” said Evgeniy Zhovtis, the head of the Kazakhstan International Bureau for Human Rights and the Rule of Law.
On November 28, 2014, 25 school children and four adults in the village of Berezovka suffered from convulsions, fainting spells, dizziness, elevated blood pressure, and severe headaches. The evening before, an accident took place on the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field, which is located a mere five kilometers from the village. The children continue to be ill. On January 1, 2018, the relocation of the village of Berezovka was completed, with residents of the village relocated to the nearby town of Aksai. The village had been fighting for relocation for 14 years.
For Additional Information:
Sergey Solyanik, Consultant to Crude Accountability
+7-707-7011271 E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Watters, Executive Director, Crude Accountability