Bags of cash, bags of rice: when will Shell properly clean up and pay up in Ogoniland?

The first thing you see on Shells homepage these days is a coffee cup and the question: need a performance boost? Well, Shell certainly needs a performance boost in the Niger Delta because right now its running on empty when it comes to good practice.

For the last three years, at least 69,000 people in Bodo a small town in the Niger Delta have been living in oily sludge as a result of two major oil spills in the region. 

A new report published by Amnesty and CEHRD shows how since 2008, rivers have been polluted with oil, fish the livelihood of this community have perished in the contaminated waters, harvests are decreasing and peoples health is waning.  And nothing has been done to clean up the mess.

The fault lies squarely at the feet of Shell, who are responsible for the infrastructure of the oil in the Niger Delta and have so far failed to clean up the region or provide adequate compensation for the victims.  Appallingly, at the time of the spill Shells gesture to the Bodo community was an offer of 50 bags of rice, beans, sugar and tomatoes as relief for the disaster. Fifty bags of food. For 69,000 people. 

Shell recently announced profits of more than US$7 billion between July and September this year. Just a few months ago, the UN Environment Programme ordered Shell to pay an initial amount of US$1 billion to clean up Ogoniland, which is just one part of the Niger Delta.

Given that last year BP committed to providing a US$20-billion fund for the Deepwater Horizon spill in the Gulf of Mexico an area much smaller than that of the Niger Delta it is pretty evident that US$1 billion will barely scratch the surface. Despite this, so far Shell, a multi-billion dollar corporation, has refused to give even that.

A recent case brought by UK law firm Leigh Day & Co resulted in Shell accepting responsibility for the oil spills in Bodo and for impacting the lives of the community.  However to date, the spills have not been cleared up. That could take years.

Shell has shirked its responsibility to the people living in Bodo for too long now. The Yes Men clip at the top of this post shows just how easy it could be for the oil company to own up, clean up and pay up. 

Let's hope its not long now before we hear this really coming from the mouths of Shells bosses. Then we may really start to see a stunning performance from Shell.

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Our blogs are written by Amnesty International staff, volunteers and other interested individuals, to encourage debate around human rights issues. They do not necessarily represent the views of Amnesty International.
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