Alina, Lyuba, Albina, Yana
and 20 other children from the village of Berezovka in western Kazakhstan used to live just like other kids their age. They went to school and joined afterschool activities. They played. Now, they live with the fact that they could faint at any moment.
These children are victims of big oil.
On November 28, 2014, Berezovka suffered a huge tragedy. Toxic emissions from an accident at the Karachaganak Field—one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world—poisoned Alina, Lyuba and other children in the village. In total, over 25 children felt nauseous, fainted, and suffered from convulsions that lasted for hours.
Lyuba’s symptoms appeared later—as did the symptoms of a number of other children—but were identical to those of the kids who fell ill on November 28th.
In 2015, Lyuba was diagnosed with toxic encephalopathy
—toxins in the brain—a serious condition that does not completely go away and which can lead to permanent disability. Independent doctors in a medical clinic in a city far from her home diagnosed her when her parents took her there to be seen by a specialist. They feared doctors closer to home would be pressured to provide a diagnosis unrelated to Karachaganak and its toxins.
Alina, Yana and Albina, although they suffer from the same symptoms as Lyuba, received a different diagnosis. Diagnosed at a government-run clinic not far from Berezovka, they were told their symptoms had nothing to do with Karachaganak and that if their parents took better care of them they would not be sick.
The state, the international consortium extracting oil and gas at Karachaganak (comprised of UK’s BG Group and now purchased by Shell, American Chevron, Italian ENI, Russian Lukoil, and Kazakhstan’s Kazmunaigaz) refuse to acknowledge that they have anything to do with the accident or the children’s illness. They have ignored the written appeals for help from the children’s parents. The government has also refused to help the children beyond the original formal medical examination.
It has been two years, and these girls and other children are still sick. The authorities began to relocate the residents of Berezovka a bit further away from the oil and gas field after the accident. But the children are still ill, suffering convulsions as recently as April 2017. From repeated falls, Lyuba has developed a cyst on her head, which could also be harmful over time.
These children need to see an experienced toxicologist, a children’s neurologist, and they need to be examined with modern equipment, which the Kazakhstani authorities have refused to provide free of charge. Their parents cannot afford to pay for them to be examined by qualified doctors abroad. The average salary of a village resident in Kazakhstan is $150-$200/month, if they are lucky enough to find work. In order to treat Lyuba, Alina, and the other children and to give them a chance at a normal life, they will need to see an experienced and uncorrupt doctor outside of Kazakhstan.Crude Accountability is raising money to obtain a proper diagnosis for the four children with the most severe symptoms. They have been offered treatment in Israel, where they will see a doctor—each child accompanied by a parent. Once they receive a proper diagnosis, the doctors will be able to determine the proper course of treatment and the necessary resources in order to make that happen.
We know the beneficiaries as the result of a 14 year environmental and human rights campaign in the village of Berezovka to defend their rights from the abuses of the corporations working there and the government of Kazakhstan, which has failed to protect its citizens. The children in the campaign are the daughters of activists and citizens who have been working in defense of the community and who reached out to us for assistance.
We will deliver the donations by working directly with the families. One of our staff members is based in Kazakhstan and works closely with the individuals involved in the campaign. Our staff—using separate funding—will accompany the children to Israel for treatment, providing translation and cultural support to the parents and children as they work with the doctors to find a treatment plan. Our campaign has been in contact with the doctors in Israel who would provide the treatment, and they have agreed to provide care to the children.
Crude Accountability protects human and environmental rights in communities impacted by oil and gas development and has been monitoring the activity at the Karachaganak Oil and Gas Condensate Field since 2003, when we began working with the local community in Berezovka. We are working to help all of Berezovka’s children, who are suffering from toxic exposure, to obtain a proper diagnosis and treatment. We will continue our campaign demanding their treatment and healing.
We are grateful for any support you can provide.
$5 will pay for medical travel insurance for one Kazakhstani child in Israel.
$25 will pay for the visa for one Kazakhstani child to travel to Israel for medical treatment.
$50 will pay for one day’s accommodations for a Kazakhstani child in Tel-Aviv.
$100 will pay for 1/20 of the cost of diagnosing one Kazakhstani child in Israel.
$150 will pay for all three of the Kazakhstani children and their parents to travel round trip from their village to the airport in Russia, where they can fly to Israel for treatment.
$250 will pay for roundtrip airplane tickets for one child and their parent from Orenburg to Moscow, where they will fly on to Israel for treatment.
$450 will pay for roundtrip Moscow-Tel Aviv airfare for one child and their parent.
$2,000 will pay for a minimum necessary medical examination for one child by a specialized doctor in Israel.
$5,000 will pay for a comprehensive medical examination for one child by a specialized doctor in Israel.