Investigate ‘shocking’ link between oil spills and baby deaths in Nigeria – Rights group

Lagos, Nov. 7, 2017 (TNE) Human rights group, Amnesty International, has called for investigation into a report that says babies in the Niger Delta region in Nigeria were twice as likely to die in the first month of life if their mother lived near an oil spill before falling pregnant.

Investigate 'shocking' link between oil spills and baby deaths in Nigeria - Rights group
Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues, Audrey Gaughran

Audrey Gaughran, Amnesty International’s Director of Global Issues, in a statement posted on the human rights watchdog’s website on Monday, said: “This shocking study raises very serious questions about why international oil companies have not done more to monitor the impact of their activities on the health of people living in the Niger Delta.

“Nigeria’s government should establish a system of independent monitoring to alert communities to any health risks posed by the oil industry and hold companies to account for any damage their activities may cause.”

Media reports quoting researchers said babies born to mothers who lived within 10km of an oil spill before they were conceived in Nigeria are twice as likely to die, describing the findings as an “alarming human tragedy”.

Researchers at the University of St Gallen in Switzerland discovered that infant mortality increased by around 38 per 100,000 births if the mother lived near an oil spill before conception.

This, the report estimates, means oil spills could be responsible for the deaths of as many as 16,000 babies within their first month of life.

Babies are particularly vulnerable to oil-related pollution, due to being in a critical development period and having not developed certain defences, the report says.

(TNE)

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