Analyses Contributor's James Nguen Opinion South Sudan

A Dying Child from Toxic Mixed from Deadly Chemicals in the Upper Nile Region


By J. Nguen Nyol,

A young South Sudanese oil worker releasing oil waste into a nearby water sources. Areas around oil fields in South Sudan face serious environmental damage and related diseases(Photo: supplied)
A young South Sudanese oil worker releasing oil waste into a nearby water sources. Areas around oil fields in South Sudan face serious environmental damage and related diseases(Photo: supplied)

Sept 25, 2019(Nyamilepedia) — Survival of the fittest is reminiscent with the concept that says, everything fights to live. In human context, leading a healthy lifestyle isn’t by random chance. It’s carefully constructed and smartly planned out to withstand pressures of adversity and contradictions of push and pull. 

This abstract, that says everything fights to live underscored the importance of have and have not. I begged to dedicate this piece on the conception of have not. It therefore presents a central case of a dying child, the dispossessed men and women in Upper Nile Region. For these people, fighting back in order to lead a better life and healthy lifestyle seems remarkably impossible and utterly defeated by forces bigger than them. 

The focus of this article is to raise a unique concern of poison wells in the Upper Nile region. A concern of poisoned landscape in the name of exploration, prosperity and development of a few. In any civilized society, the question of land – healthy environment and clean drinking water are central. they are at the heart of human health, safety and environmental protection. Surprisingly, this isn’t the case in South Sudan.

In this respect, perhaps, I begged to report that toxic mixed of deadly chemicals are wilfully allowed to contaminate lands, air and water ways in Upper Nile region without a protest from the rightful owners of the land.

This paper is a centrepiece meant to divulge facts on a doomed region – the Upper Nile region. A place where deformity, mischarges, stillborn epidemic and rampant cases of dying children from toxic mixed of deadly chemicals are nothing but routine. 

As I write, children in Upper Nile are dying in big numbers in disgraced and humiliating silence. It’s a unique case of moral stained. A classic case of profound neglect from those whom we bestowed power to protect and lead us, but, led myopically with reverse gear on full throttle. 

For a society to be sure and graciously certain of life ahead, children are always the answer. Children are the futuristic endowment of a country. Children’s survival in a country with promised bright future is central and essential for prosperity and development. This is good for a responsible government because it’s her duty to ensure that this unwritten code is protected and preserved. It’s it mandates that children are cherished, nurtured and protected at all cost from adversity with far reaching negative consequences. In our case, in South Sudan, it’s the opposite. It’s sad to report that these noble mandates are abandoned and utterly forgotten at will. 

Because of these mischiefs, the dispossessed men, women and children in Upper Nile are left to fence for themselves. For instance, they are exposed to deadly chemicals. In disguise our people are auctioned out for sale without a paper trail. As a consequent, they are born deformed, mischarged, stillborn and dying young from environmental contaminations we can literally help prevent. 

With straight face, I can therefore humbly declare that children in Upper Nile are dying in big numbers. This country next generation have been dying off unreported from these deadly toxic mixed of chemicals release to the environment by Chinese – Malaysians for last 10 years now. This hidden problem has reached its climax and we are experiencing endemics of mischarges, stillborn, deformity and weirdly looking new-borns, particularly in Unity and Upper Nile States, where oil operation is underway without enforceable environmental policy.

As a concerned citizen, it’s my moral duty to raise an alarm about this toxic mixed of deadly chemicals affecting our people. In Kuoth we trust, I should say the land, the air and the water ways in Upper Nile region are currently contaminated without a question. 

Environmentally speaking, this is a crime. A punishable crime by all standards. And in this deadly destruction of human lives, ecosystem and environment, the Chinese, the Malaysians and the Indians’ oil giants are squarely responsible.

For the greater good of humanity and of our people, it’s nobly correct to raise the alarm about innocent lives being destroy at will. Keeping silence about these sinister acts amounts to complicit and an abject betrayal of the principles we all fought for, died for during the war of liberation. 

At this juncture, it’s imperative and timely that these big oil companies operating in South Sudan are call out and held to account. They must be call out to behave humanly and perhaps coerce to take responsibility for their mistakes. 

Also, it’s morally right and environmentally sound to speak and inform the rest of the world that our children are dying and the China National Petroleum Corporation, the Petronas and the India’s Oil and Natural Gas Corporation Videsh are responsible 

Considering the veracity of the pollution in Upper Nile, I should report that these oil companies respect environmental laws and other environmental principles such as fairness, environmental justice, science & research and polluter pays codes of conduct in their own countries but failed to do so in South Sudan. This is an abject discrimination, and therefore, it must be condemned strongly by a responsible government. 

Similarly, because these big oil corporations failed to do their due diligent, it’s our collective duty as citizens of this country to expose them. This is our moral and national duty within our reach. It’s to ensure that our people’s lives are protected, and sustainable development based on science and best practices are in place.  

Calling our government to institute sounds environmental policies, with practical health and safety standards in this country is rightly paramount. Such a decision will cement the fact that our lives evolves and depends on the land, fresh air and clean drinking water. These items cannot literally be compromised for a short gain or benefit of a few. 

To place this narrative into perspective, for the last 20 years or so, Upper Nile as a region has been and still is a lifeline and economic hub for the two Sudans. As result, this region made South Sudan a DOLLAR COUNTRY. A dollar country which has attracted all kind of cartels and profiteers of all colours, and whose interior motive is, but to loot. 

As I write, South Sudan as a country is besieged and being looted alive by invisible hands of cartels and heartless profiteers. The sad part is, the rightful owners of the land are in awkward indifference. This is a classic case of identity crisis from presumptuous leaders, informed by sheer ignorance and lack of foresight.

Due to lack of foresight and pathetic indifference at the top, evidence showed that our children in Upper Nile will continued to die off like flies in despicable and humiliating silence. It’s evidenced that no one care or dare to speak out in protest. This is a shame and pathetic at best.

And to make the matter worse, it’s being reported that some of our leaders wrongfully believe the environmental pollution occurring in Upper Nile region is a distanced problem. An isolated case of less significance. Allegedly, it was claimed that our leaders think the pollution problem in Upper Nile is a herd-man in gumboot’s problem. 

Thus, I rightfully disagreed. Any problem anywhere in this country is our collective problem. There is no isolated and insignificant herd-men’s problem alone. If anything, we are all herd-men. We were once born in grass-thatched huts with tiny windows or at times none.

A Sudanese engineer points at the damage to an oil pipeline in a largely damaged oilfield in Heglig April 23, 2012. REUTERS photo
A Sudanese engineer points at the damage to an oil pipeline in a largely damaged oilfield in Heglig April 23, 2012. REUTERS photo

Besides, to put this oil exploration in Upper Nile into historical context, oil and gas reserve were discovered in 1979 by Chevron oil company in the Sudan. Chevron is an American oil giant, one of the “seventh sisters” who virtually runs the world of conglomerates. After the discovery of oil reserves in Upper Nile, the actual exploration and operation of wells started in 1997, during the midst of deadly and longest civil war in Africa.

By default, or design, currently, Chevron is not the operating oil company in the two Sudans. Other oil giants have taken over. These Oil giants who have taken over our oil reserves in the two Sudans are from the eastern shore of the globe. These are the CPNC of China, the Petronas from Malaysia and the India National oil company. 

These oil companies have been given full exploration rights than life itself in the Upper Nile region. Anything that still moves or crawls or die slowly on and underground is on their mercy. Because of these unlimited rights given to oil companies, they dump deadly toxic mixed of chemicals and waste into the Nile or open farm fields as they pleased without any regard to ecosystem and environment. 

For example, as I write, in Unity and Upper Nile States, shallow and open tail ponds are filled with toxic mixed of deadly chemicals marked the savanna. During the rainy seasons, these tail ponds are often wash off by rain to farm land and water ways. As such, the consequent is deadly. the land is contaminated; ecosystem destroyed; and surface and underground water revealed high levels of lead, mercury and arsenic.

In the face of this gruesome undertaking, surprisingly, no one care or seems to care to say the least. No one asked the right question about a land, air and clean drinking water being destroy. 

Our top leaders who should know better, care better or ask the right question are instead caught up in a vicious cycle of war borne out of a pathetic tribal rivalry where there is no outright winner. Clearly so, in this tug of war – push and pull, our children are the victims.  

As a result, their suffering is by and large marked by instances of limbless children, eyeless, fingerless, nose-less or animal looking like, human born in the shack. At times, these children are born under trees in a simmering sun and in the reeds by a human looking mother. This is awful! 

Sadly so, despite the advancement in science and technology, evidence showed some crooks in South Sudan still played gods’ card for creating misfortune.  

Thus, I must categorical declare that these deadly episodes are pure science at plays. The health effects witnessed in Upper Nile region aren’t by bad luck at all. It’s a consequence of bad deeds by heartless folks who careless about humanity but themselves. In other word, it’s an epitome of oil exploitation that went sideway. 

As Chinese – Malaysians continued to pollute environment in South Sudan, our leaders continued to loot oil’s proceeds in earnest. In the process, our leaders failed to comprehend the consequence and calculus as to why their young men and women who stand guard with tanks and armoured vehicles protecting oil companies and their assets, and yet, their children are dying in agony before their eyes from toxic poisons chemicals produced by the same oil companies whom they protect. This is a serious manipulation and distortion of reality that our people are being play fools.

By all standards, it’s remarkably sad and stupid, for people who fought so hard for independence, for decades, to free themselves from yoke of bondage, slavery and misrule to find themselves in a country where there is no environmental laws and guidelines to ensure best practices to safeguard their wellbeing.

Thus, I must conclude that we have gone sideway and lose track of our vision. This is a reality I struggle to grasped. With this article, I once again petitioned our leaders and fellow citizens of good consciences, to be responsible and take actions against environmental pollution in Upper Nile region. 

It’s unpatriotic and inconceivable for us to fall for curry favours. In fact, it’s a grave mistake and unforgivable wrongdoing to allow our children in Upper Nile to dies in such a humiliating silence from causes we can help prevent. 

Nguen Nyol is a founder of Nile Health, Safety and Environmental Organization based in South Sudan. He is also an advocate and political commentator. He can be reached at jamesnguen@gmail.com 

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