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South Sudan to relocate victims of oil pollution

The South Sudan government plans to relocate thousands of people affected by the oil pollution in the former Unity State and other areas in the north.

The Parliamentary Committee on Petroleum and Mining made the proposal following an outcry from the affected populations and lobby groups.

The head of the committee, Mr James Lual, who visited the pollution site recently, confirmed that the situation was grave.

The best option

He said the health and the livelihoods of the people living in and around the Upper Nile oilfields were being severely affected by the pollution of the entire environment, particularly the water sources.

“In view of the extent and persistence of the contamination of sources of water, the best option is to relocate the residents,” said Mr Lual.

“I saw with my own eyes chemical wastes that have the capability to seriously harm people. I encountered water containing materials that are dangerous to both people and animals. I saw trees drying up,” he added.

A basic right

The contamination of the environment in the north has added to the factors forcing more than a half a million people to flee the region, the government confirmed in April.

Oil minister Ezekiel Gatkuoth Lol declined to comment on the matter when contacted.

A political science scholar at the University of Juba, Dr James Okuk, urged the oil companies to compensate the victims of pollution.

“The payment by oil companies as compensation to victims of their pollution is a standard practice around the world. This is because the victims have a basic right to such, provided that this contamination has been proven,” Dr Okuk noted.

By The Eastafrican

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