Questions on oil pollution

for the Honorable Ezekiel Lul Gatkuoth, Minister of Petroleum and Mining, Republic of South Sudan

Good evening, Honorable Minister.

Since you have yet to respond to these questions and to my request for an interview in which I could pose them, I am taking the liberty of addressing you in this way.

A week ago, Al Jazeera published a report and a video

detailing the devastating effects on the health of residents of the former Unity State by the pollution of water with oil wastes.

It contained shocking footage of a little girl crippled by this pollution.

Corroborative evidence of the oil-caused poisoning of the water consumed by people in this region and its consequences for health was provided by journalists reporting for Juba‘s Eye Radio.

My questions:

What exactly is your government‘s plan to help the victims of this pollution?

Do you support their urgent calls for their being compensated for loss of health, livelihood and homes?

I would greatly appreciate also getting any comments you might have on this.


Joseph Oduha,

Journalist, For South Sudan


A little crippled girl

one of the 600,000 victims of oil’s poisoning of water in South Sudan: shocking video from Al Jazeera

Blockbusting, detailed reporting

On oil pollution in Toma South and Unity Oil Fields, which confirms fact that the environment ministry did go on a fact-finding mission.

Click on the link below for the full report


Searing report in the Washington Post

‘Life is miserable’: Even when there’s food in South Sudan, many can’t afford it

November 18

If a teacher in South Sudan wants to buy a chicken for dinner, he would have to save everything he earns for two full months — and it still wouldn’t be enough.

Five years of intense civil warfare have decimated South Sudan’s economy and killed an estimated 380,000 people. A third of the population is displaced, every second person is going hungry, and hundreds of thousands are at risk of starving to death in the world’s newest country, according to the United Nations.

Parts of South Sudan — including key agricultural areas — are nearly emptied of people; they fled for safety or to find food. That means those who remain in South Sudan are relying on imports, even though a plunging exchange rate means imported food is overwhelmingly expensive. And despite the influx of billions of dollars in food aid, attacks on deliveries, bad roads, flooding and deliberate government interference mean that food often doesn’t get to the people who need it.

The result, according to United Nations data, is that even when food is available, many prices are so high — a single meal costs two times the national daily income, according to a report released this year — that people can’t buy the things they see in markets or shops. This is threatening to worsen a crisis that is already Africa’s biggest refugee exodus since the Rwandan genocide in the 1990s.

People are being forced to make difficult sacrifices to survive, said Nicholas Kerandi, a food security analyst with the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization. Some eat only one meal a day. Others cut out education or health-care costs. Many become refugees.

“It’s a way of coping. You have less income, but you still have to eat,” Kerandi said.

Click here to read the full report

Stunning photo by Waakhe Simon Wudu

A woman fetching water – the only available to her and her family – in Bentiu, South Sudan. This water source is just a few kilometers away from oil wells, which, experts say, have issued the chemicals contaminating the water. Photo by Waakhe Simon Wudu taken November 2013.

Polluted water in South Sudan – no help in sight

Deutsche Welle’s online article on the oil contamination in South Sudan:

Verseuchtes Trinkwasser im Südsudan: Keine Hilfe in Sicht

Durch die Ölproduktion im Südsudan soll das Trinkwasser von mehr als einer halbe Million Menschen vergiftet worden sein. Mitte April versprach der malaysische Konzern Petronas Abhilfe. Was ist daraus geworden?

Die Mail war unerwartet, der Inhalt auch. Mitte April meldete sich die Pressestelle von Petronas bei der DW. Kurz zuvor hatte die deutsche Hilfsorganisation Hoffnungszeichen schwere Vorwürfe gegen den Konzern aus Malaysia erhoben, die DW berichtete. Durch giftige Abfälle aus der Ölproduktion soll das Trinkwasser von mehr als 600.000 Menschen im Südsudan verunreinigt worden sein. Hauptverantwortlich dafür laut Hoffnungszeichen: Petronas, Sponsor des Formel-1 Teams von Mercedes.

“Als verantwortungsbewusste Organisation stellen wir die Bedürfnisse der Menschen vor Ort an oberste Stelle”, schrieb der Ölmulti aus Kuala Lumpur. Die Vorwürfe von Hoffnungszeichen weise man strikt zurück. Aber: Man habe ein gutes Gespräch mit Hoffnungszeichen gehabt und “werde den Standpunkt von Hoffnungszeichen in Betracht ziehen, wie die Situation im Südsudan verbessert werden könnte”. Ein konkreter Projektvorschlag läge auf dem Tisch und werde geprüft.

Hoffnungsschimmer im April

Bei dem Treffen in Zürich sei man auf eine “durchaus interessierte Runde getroffen”, sagt auch der zweite Vorsitzende der Hilfsorganisation, Klaus Stieglitz zur DW. 2007 erhielt seine Organisation nach eigenen Angaben die ersten Hinweise, dass die Wasservorräte in der Region verunreinigt waren – mit Schwermetallen und Salzen, die als Abfallstoffe bei der Ölproduktion entstehen.

Click here to read the full article