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The UN Environment Programme acknowledged that its investigation about the oil spills in the Niger Delta, in Nigeria, is based on information provided by the oil industry. This raised the concern of several environmental and human rights organizations.
Oil spills and gas flaring in Nigeria, especially by Anglo-Dutch oil giant Shell, are some of the main examples of environmental pollution at world level.
“Outrage” was the word chosen by Friends of the Earth International in a press release issued on Tuesday, after finding out that the UN investigation relied on data supplied by oil companies and Nigerian state statistics.
The environmentalist federation has been following closely these issues, with numerous protests and even bringing Shell to court. Now, it is demanding the UN to take into account the voices of affected communities and the organizations that support them.
Friends of the Earth International´s Chair, and Director of Friends of the Earth Nigeria, Nnimmo Bassey, said: “We monitor spills regularly and our observations often contradict information produced by oil companies and Nigerian regulatory agencies . If the UNEP team would ask community monitors it would avoid falling into the trap of spinning Shell’s figures.”
Nevertheless, Bassey said he is not surprised because the “UN assessment is being paid for by Shell”. “But the reality is that several studies have placed the bulk of the blame for oil spills in the Niger Delta on the doorsteps of the oil companies; particularly Shell”, he added.
Moreover, activist Geert Ritsema, from Friends of the Earth Netherlands, said that “UNEP should base its findings mostly on independent sources rather than on information from the oil companies responsible for the massive oil pollution in Nigeria.”
In June, Shell refused to publish 30 documents that would provide more information about the oil leaks in the Niger Delta. This behavior shows that Shell is hiding information so as to avoid cleaning the pollution caused and compensate local communities, warned Friends of the Earth Netherlands.
This organization, together with four Nigerian farmers and fishermen filed a lawsuit against Shell in The Hague, the company´s headquarters. The lawsuit was brought against Shell´s headquarters and its subsidiary Shell Nigeria. The plaintiffs are accusing the company of environmental pollution caused by oil spills in Oruma, Goi and Ikot Ada Udo villages.
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