In Darfur, where more than 200,000 people have perished in what the United States calls a genocide, the killing has been supported by profits from companies helping the government of Sudan tap its vast reservoirs of oil, according to services that research corporate conduct for investors. The firms include China's Sinopec Corp., Malaysia's Petronas, and Schlumberger, based in the Netherlands Antilles — whose investors include the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.
The Gates Foundation's most significant connection to the Sudanese oil industry, however, is through Berkshire Hathaway Inc. Bill Gates is a Berkshire director, and Berkshire's chairman, Warren E. Buffett, is a trustee of the Gates Foundation. Berkshire holds a $3.3-billion stake in PetroChina Co., a subsidiary of the China National Petroleum Corp., or CNPC, the biggest player in Sudanese oil.
Buffett has pledged $31 billion worth of Berkshire stock to the Gates Foundation in annual installments, beginning last year with $1.6 billion. In 2009 and afterward, the foundation expects Berkshire's wealth to fund about half of its charitable awards — which have included more than $34 million for emergency refugee and health services in Sudan, plus a share of at least $167 million more in regional health grants.
But some of Berkshire's wealth comes from PetroChina, whose parent company supplies a large part of the money that underwrites Sudan's military — as well as the janjaweed, according to the United States and the United Nations. The infusion of Berkshire stock places the Gates Foundation in conflict with its own efforts to help victims of the Sudanese civil war.
It's hard to keep your hands clean in this world. But that's the way things go in the aid business. And it's not just oil companies. Pharmaceutical companies, grain processors and others fuck over Africa every day but then invest in aid projects. Industry always hedges its bets and supports both sides in a conflict. Support Hitler, support the Janjaweed but make a show of helping the victims.