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Nigerian prelates decry oil theft, pollution

Catholic World News - August 13, 2014

Speaking at a recent roundtable discussion, two Nigerian bishops have called upon the nation’s government to address widespread oil theft and the subsequent pollution from illegal “artisanal” oil refineries.

One prelate characterized that pollution as having a “far worse impact on the environment and livelihood of the ordinary people than any other activity,” in the words of a report from the Catholic Information Service for Africa.

The Globe and Mail, one of Canada’s leading newspapers, reported that up to 20% of the nation’s oil output “is stolen from illegally tapped pipelines, in what locals call ‘bunkering’ and what experts say is a massive scheme that involves complicit government officials and billions in laundered money.”

“The government is either unable or unwilling to act to save the environment and the people that live in it,” said Archbishop Joseph Ekuwem of Calabar. “Artisanal refining is condemnable because it exposes the operators and other community members to unimaginable health risks in the short and long term.”

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