The people of South Sudan’s Unity region redouble calls for a full-scale investigation of oil pollution’s devastating impact upon their health

By Francis Michael Gwan | We Are Witness

July 24,2019

A recently-born baby may hold the key to getting the people of South Sudan’s oil-producing regions what they want most: relief from the devastating effects of oil pollution – through the provision of clean water, medical treatment, compensation for losses suffered, and remediation of their homes and lands.

The baby has one leg and hands with six fingers. As reported in Radio Tamazuj, the baby was brought by South Sudan’s ministries of health and of petroleum to Nairobi for testing in a hospital and its laboratory. The purpose: to find out what has caused these and many other horrible deformities.  https://radiotamazuj.org/en/news/article/oil-ministry-takes-baby-born-with-congenital-malformation-for-medical-checks

Should in fact the medical experts conducting the tests determine that oil pollution is the cause of these deformities, this would constitute a key confirmation of what the region’s people have long been claiming – and officials at the ministries have been reporting.

Speaking to forsouthsudan.com on the conditions of anonymity, one of these officials stated that there is probably a high frequency of such births of malformed children in the Unity region. He added that this fact has met with little interest on the part of the authorities in charge of oil production. The authorities have refrained from pursuing the systemic check-up of the peoples’ health needed to quantify and qualify the extent of damage done by oil pollution.

Testimony from Paulino Nyok, resident of the oil-producing region of Ruweng

Paulino Nyok states that there were no births of deformed children in the region prior to the discovery of oil. Paulino is convinced that these births – and many other health problems (see below) are the direct result of the depositing of oil wastes in the environment by oil companies. These poisons have become entrenched in the region’s groundwater and on its land, from which strong winds convey them throughout the country and region.

Other widespread problems: miscarriages and stillbirths, skin allergies, and infertility. These are joined, according to Paulino, by the mass dying of livestock and other destructions of livelihoods.

Paulino and other residents of the region have called upon the government of South Sudan to equip local medical centers with the equipment needed by the medical centers to investigate and treat resident ailments.