No-one has received any help here, Bildt

Aftonbladet Exclusive, Sunday March 11, 2012


A preliminary criminal investigation is underway into the oil company Lundin Petroleum, formerly Lundin Oil. Public prosecutor Magnus Elving will have to decide on reports of murder and the mass expulsion of people in southern Sudan. Question: Is the company guilty of crimes under international law here?


Aftonbladet’s Leo Lagercrantz, Jens Christian Brandt and Magnus Wennman have returned to the scene of the alleged crimes. They have met victims who bear witness to murder and mass expulsions when Lundin arrived in the area. Today the team is searching for Lundin’s alleged projects in South Sudan where they earned hundreds of millions of kronor from oil. This is at the same time as their fellow journalists Martin Schibbye and Johan Persson are sitting in an Ethiopian jail. Their crime: They were seeking the truth about Lundin’s activities in the Ethiopian province of Ogaden.


No sign at Bentius Hospital of the projects claimed by Lundin Oil

Bentiu State Hospital is a branch of hell, where angels in white coats wage a hopeless struggle against puerperal fever. In a cubbyhole with bare walls sits chief physician Peter Gat Kouth. When we walk along the tattered hospital blocks, we are nervous about how we will be received. As heroes? We are, of course, from the same country as Lundin and Carl Bildt; the company which, by its own account, has sponsored health care in this region, and the Foreign Minister who claims that he brought peace and prosperity to Sudan and South Sudan. It seems that the Swedes’ contributions have passed Peter Gat Kouth by.

“There is a shortage of absolutely everything. The entire state is our catchment area, and resources fall very far short.” Just a stone’s throw from here lies one of Africa’s largest oil deposits. In what way has it benefited the population?

“Not at all. We do not even have the simplest of medicines. Or equipment. Sometimes we are promised drugs, but the shipments rarely arrive.” Several international oil companies have set up here. How have they contributed to healthcare?

“We haven’t been aware of them. The exception is an Indian company which once paid for a shipment of medicine from Juba to Bentiu. On one occasion.”


Many newborn infants are undernourished

Mary Wiajuacni Paan is the duty midwife. She is proud of all the children that have been born during the last 24 hours. “It’s tough working here. If twins are born, often only one will survive.” Sad, but that happens as a rule. She says that many of the women are suffering from malaria. And that many children who survive will soon be admitted to the hospital again – as a result of malnutrition. The delivery ward is a dirty room with flies hovering over the beds. Two dozen women are lying here. Some are breast-feeding their new-born babies. Others are staring at the wall with a lifeless gaze. These are the ones whose children died during delivery. Now they are alone with their grief: there is no one here to console them or show them a way out of their pain.

The statistics are heartbreaking: the infant mortality rate in South Sudan is one of the highest in the world. According to the UN, antenatal care in the country is among the world’s most disadvantaged.


“We built a health clinic”

In South Sudan we search in vain for those projects that Lundin Petroleum says it has carried out. They have either ended or else they have moved. The only thing we can locate is a shabby annex to the university in the capital Juba. But there there is only a secretary there, who tells us she is not allowed to comment.

Back to the oil companies’ responsibilities. Maria Hamilton, Head of Corporate Communications at Lundin Petroleum, states that the company admittedly did not collaborate with the Central Hospital in Bentiu, instead running other health projects in the area:

“When we were active in Sudan we had a roving team of five doctors and nurses who moved between the different villages to provide medical aid in situ. This in turn led to the fact that we built a permanent health clinic for the local population.”


“Only the army received care”

This statement causes Professor Leben Moro, leading researcher into oil-related conflicts, to hit the roof.

“The oil companies’ social projects have only caused harm. It is true that they set up mobile health clinics. The war was still going on, it was only the army and the soldiers’ relatives who had access to care.”

The professor is also sceptical about the wells that Lundin built. “What happened in Unity State was that Arab tribes who had previously been nomads discovered that it was a good idea to live next to a water cistern. So they settled there, and with their Kalashnikovs drove away all the people who had previously lived there. Finally it was only the army of occupation, and that cemented the state of war.”

Maria Hamilton disputes this and instead says that the wells and the filtration plants that were built were accessible to everyone. “They were used by both the local people and by private organisations active in the area.”


Lundin’s programme in Sudan

Here are the projects which, according to Lundin Petroleum, formed part of the company’s development and humanitarian programme in 2001-2002 in southern Sudan.

According to Lundin Petroleum, the main aim was to

… help improve health, hygiene, education and quality of life for the current and future inhabitants of the area of operations, Block 5A, Unity State.

… contribute to economic and social development in the area.

… contribute to friendly relations between the company and the inhabitants.

In 2001 primarily freshwater and health projects were initiated in Block 5A in Unity State and after 2002 also in the Rubkona/Bentiu area.



Magnus Wennman, magnus.wennman@aftonbladet.se

Leo Lagercrantz, leo.lagercrantz@aftonbladet.se

Jens C Brandt, jens.brandt@aftonbladet.se



original article in Swedish: