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Civil society groups call for immediate clean-up of Ogoniland

The Environmental Rights Action, Amnesty International, and Friends of the Earth Europe on Friday, June 2, 2017 called for the immediate clean-up of Ogoniland in Nigeria, as it was stated should happen by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).


Land degradation from oil spill in Ogoniland, Nigeria

One year on from when the implementation of UNEPs report on Ogoniland was officially supposed to begin, the communities of the Niger Delta are still waiting for clean-up to start.

Since the current President, Muhammadu Buhari, was elected, the governing structures for the UNEP implementation have been put in place and a coordinator was appointed to lead HYPREP, the implementation agency.

But, six years after publication of the UNEP Environmental Assessment of Ogoniland, very little has happened to improve the situation, said the activists, even as they listed areas of concern to include:

  • Communities in Ogoniland are still waiting for clean-up and still waiting for the clean air, water, and land they need.
  • Only 1% of the promised funds have been made available: a reported $10m of the required $1billion budget has been transferred.
  • Some communities where UNEP found contaminated drinking water wells have never received any alternative source of drinking water.
  • Shell continues to use the discredited RENA clean-up process, despite UNEP’s clear recommendation that the process was ineffective and should be discontinued.
  • The company also says it has revisited 15 oil spill sites identified by UNEP, and carried out further remediation at 6 of those sites. But this is misleading because UNEP found contamination at more than 50 Shell locations.
  • Meanwhile an Amnesty International investigation found that heavy contamination remained at four oil spill sites identified by UNEP, despite the fact remediation work had been carried out by Shell.
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“Six years after the UNEP report the communities of Ogoniland are still unacceptably waiting for action to clean up their land and water. Justice cannot be endlessly delayed, the Nigerian government needs to urgently ensure the plan is implemented immediately,” said Godwin Ojo, head of the Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria.

Meanwhile the oil industry continues discredited practices and fails to ensure Ogoniland is free of pollution, he stresses, alleging that Shell is using the government clean-up process as an excuse for not properly cleaning-up past pollution.

“Its responsibility is clear – it stops and cleans up it’s pollution now,” said the Amnesty International.

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The UNEP report called for the implementation of emergency measures, the establishment of a $1 billion start-up fund and extensive clean-up of Ogoniland.

“It’s overdue that the start-up fund is immediately fully funded and the clean-up operation fully staffed. A clear priority should be the immediate delivery of all emergency and priority measures outlined in the UNEP report – no more delays, ’’ said Colin Roche, of the Friends of the Earth Europe.


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