SWITZERLAND, OCTOBER 31 – The Archbishop of York, John Sentamu, has described the damage done by oil exploration in Nigeria as an environmental genocide.
Speaking to the BBC as part of a commission investigating the impact of multinational oil companies in the southern Bayelsa state, Dr Sentamu called for an end to double standards.
“People talk about environmental degradation. I think that’s too weak a phrase. For me, really, as I’ve looked at the environment and as I’ve looked at people’s lives, I’ve come to the conclusion that this is a very slow environmental genocide really, in the end.”
He said the poor condition of the facilities would not be tolerated anywhere else, and the companies were ultimately responsible for any spills from their installations.
He said the situation was not just a local issue:
“I may have come from Uganda, I may now be living in the United Kingdom, but we live in a global village. These are my neighbours. I’m absolutely concerned about their well being. And when you see the poverty, a country that produces so much oil and you look [at] the conditions which they’re living, it’s just shocking.”
Dr Sentamu also accused the Nigerian government of abdicating its responsibility to protect Bayelsa’s diverse ecosystem.