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In Niger Global Rights calls for Govt intervention in lead poisoning endemic in Shikira

Human rights body, Global Rights have called on State and Federal Govt intervention in lead poisoning epidermic in Shikira community in Niger State.

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Global Rights has called for the immediate intervention of the Federal Government of Nigeria and the Niger state government in the lead poisoning in Shikira community due to artisanal gold mining activities since May 2015.

In a statement by the human rights body, the Federal Ministry of Health broke the news of the death of 28 children with 65 others critically ill from lead poisoning at Shikira, a remote community in Rafi Local Government Area of Niger state in May 2015, and since then, nothing tangible has been done to remedy the situation.

It was further disclosed that the general assumption was that the government would immediately respond to curtail further deaths and remediate the community but little or nothing has been done to salvage the  community's plight.

In spite of concerted advocacy for over a year, Global Rights is appalled to note that the government other than to visit the community, has failed to live up to its obligation, notwithstanding the fact that new contaminations have been recorded.

Global Rights, a unique human rights capacity building organization that works side by side local activists to advance justice, notes that since the outbreak, the Senate only passed a resolution on June 3rd 2016 compelling the Executive arm of the government to embark on a total clean-up of Shikira and requested the release of intervention funds for the affected communities.

While we applaud the recent visit by the Minister of Environment, Mrs. Amina Mohammed, to the community and her declaration of the situation as a national disaster, we are however yet to see any concrete measures towards the swift implementation of the cleanup plan for Shikira and its neighboring communities.

We remind the government that time is running out and that once the heavy rains set in, access to the community will be completely blocked. Global Rights with regret, notes that in spite of the lessons learned in the Zamfara lead poisoning episode, the government has yet again failed to intervene in a timely manner in the Shikira lead poisoning outbreak.

We therefore remind the Federal Government of Nigeria that under the Constitution of the Federal Republic, it is obligated to protect and promote the rights of its citizen.

Specifically,  Global Rights Nigeria is calling on the Federal Government of Nigeria to:

  1. Immediately commence the remediation of Shikira community.

  2. Immediately situate a crisis center at Rafi Local Government and dispatch a medical response team to initiate treatment for affected victims.

  3. Actively Regulate mining activities and promote artisanal mining cooperatives in Niger state.

  4. Provide safer mining equipment such as wet mining machines for artisanal cooperatives.

  5. Regulate water sources used for gold processing.

  6. Embark on educating mining communities on safer mining practices and regulations.

  7. Coordinate with the state government in ending the crisis.

Furthermore, Global Rights Nigeria urges the Niger State Government to immediately upgrade the medical facility at Shikira community; immediately provide more water borehole facilities to ensure the supply of portable water to the community; Build an access road leading to the community; provide alternative livelihoods for the rural communities in Niger state and extending poverty alleviation schemes or cash interventions for the community to pursue other economic activities and cooperate with the Federal Government in arresting further lead poisoning outbreaks in Niger state.

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