Tuesday, 30 June 2009

Oil, blood and poverty in Nigeria - Amnesty International

The Amnesty video originally used here has been taken off the internet source site. However, FOE Netherlands also recorded evidence of pollution.

Amnesty International today released a new report, Petroleum, pollution and poverty in the Niger Delta. They point out how Shell and other oil companies have consistently denied responsibility for “pollution, administrative neglect, crumbling social infrastructure and services, high unemployment, social deprivation, abject poverty, filth and squalor, and endemic conflict.” Amnesty calls it one of the world’s worst examples of the “resource curse” and a "human rights tragedy".

Oil companies, through biased "production agreements" have taken the lion's share of US$600 billion in oil profits since the 1960s. Nigerian politicians and military take what remains, leaving nothing for locals -- the resulting protests and civil war by ethnic groups, with frequent revenge atrocities by national security forces, have continued for 40 years, from the Biafran war to the current hostage-taking by MEND. Food sources of the majority of the 31 million people living in the delta are threatened: oil leaks pollute drinking water, kill fish, and damage the whole ecosystem. The companies are guilty of oil spills, waste dumping, and toxic gas flaring that would not be tolerated in their home countries -- to which must be added impacts from civil war, sabotage and theft. Though Nigerian law sets environmental standards, its enforcement has always been ineffective, biased and corrupt.

See the Amnesty site, and our previous post about the Ogoni. Eyewitnesses now report Nigerian security force attacks in Ijaw territory. Shell has finally paid $15.5 million out of court to families of executed Ogoni leaders after 14 years -- $5 million to "Kiisi" educational and community projects -- but continues to deny responsibility: see the Greenpeace archive. 2008 data put Shell, Exxon, Chevron and BP among the world's leading carbon polluters: p. 7, in Shell's Big Dirty Secret, just released by FOE and Greenpeace, which also uses secret Shell memos to document its Nigerian pollution and retreat from renewables. Wikipedia explains production agreements but fails to note that by "cooking the books" companies use them to capture economic rent for years to the detriment of the host country. See also our post on Blood and oil in Peru and bolivia.

Victoria Tauli-Corpus, an indigenous Filipino and chair of the UN permanent forum on indigenous issues, says, "An aggressive drive is taking place to extract the last remaining resources from indigenous territories. There is a [worldwide] crisis of human rights. There are more and more arrests, killings and abuses. This is happening in Russia, Canada, the Philippines, Cambodia, Mongolia, Nigeria, the Amazon, all over Latin America, Papua New Guinea and Africa. It is global. We are seeing a human rights emergency. A battle is taking place for natural resources everywhere."

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