Whilst British motorists protest about the price of fuel in the UK, the reindeer herding tribal peoples of Siberia are paying, sometimes with their lives, for the oil industry which blights their homes. Their lands are destroyed, their reindeer are killed - their situation is so desperate many are driven to suicide.
As oil prices rise, the pressure mounts for tribal peoples such as the Khanty, who live in oil rich areas. The oil companies often deceive them, telling them they don't have any rights to stop them drilling on their land. Occasionally the tribes sign an agreement allowing access to their land in return for compensation, such as a skidoo or boat engine and some rations. However, once their land has been destroyed, the oil companies invariably fail to give what they promised.
Life expectancy for Siberia's tribal peoples is significantly lower than for Russians. 37 year old Khanty reindeer herder, Demitri, was one of 27 pupils in his class at school. Only six or seven are alive today. Two hanged themselves and many others died of drink related incidents. Those Khanty who lose their land to oil companies and can no longer herd reindeer, hunt or fish are often driven to alcoholism, drinking the vodka which is brought in by oil workers.
Today Survival is launching a campaign for the rights of the tribal peoples of Siberia to the ownership and protection of their lands. Survival's Director, Stephen Corry, said, 'While British motorists complain about the price of petrol, the exploitation of oil is a matter of life or death to many Khanty people. If people here knew the true costs to the Khanty people of the petrol they put in their cars, they would put more energy into campaigning for a fairer deal for Siberia's tribes.'
Survival is a worldwide organisation supporting tribal peoples. It stands for their right to decide their own future and helps them protect their lives, lands and human rights.
Survival's website can be found at: http://www.survival-international.org