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Gold mine contamination kills 400 Nigerian children

The hunt for gold in northern Nigeria has left 400 children dead of lead poisoning and many more ill in the past two years, a human rights organization says.

A doctor from Medecins sans Frontiers (MSF), right, takes a blood sample to determine a young girl's lead level at a clinic in the village of Abare, northern Nigeria, on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. At least 284 children under the age of five have died from lead poisoning in eight villages in Nigeria's Zamfara state as a result of small-scale gold mining, according to government officials. (Bloomberg)
A doctor from Medecins sans Frontiers (MSF), right, takes a blood sample to determine a young girl's lead level at a clinic in the village of Abare, northern Nigeria, on Tuesday, Dec. 7, 2010. At least 284 children under the age of five have died from lead poisoning in eight villages in Nigeria's Zamfara state as a result of small-scale gold mining, according to government officials. (Bloomberg)


Human Rights Watch said in a release Tuesday thousands of Nigerian children need immediate medical treatment and dozens of villages are contaminated by pollution from artisanal gold mines throughout Zamfara state.

The organizations says children are exposed to lead dust when they process ore in the mines, when relatives return home from working in the mines covered with lead dust and when the lead-filled ore is manually or mechanically crushed at home. Children can also come in contact with lead in contaminated water and food.

Healthcare workers in Zamfara state say there also have been high rates of infertility and miscarriage among adults, the rights group said.

"Zamfara's gold brought hope for prosperity, but resulted in death and backbreaking labor for its children," said Babatunde Olugboji, deputy program director at Human Rights Watch. "People living in Zamfara state should not have to trade their lives, or their children's lives, for the chance to mine gold and make a living."

The group said more than 1,500 children have been treated for acute lead poisoning but thousands more have gone without the chelation therapy treatment that removes lead from the body.

Efforts to decontaminate the affected villages also have fallen short, Human Rights Watch said. (UPI)

 

<한글 기사>

‘금 캐러 갔다가 …” 400명 아이들 목숨 잃어

금광에서 일하던 수천 명의 아이들이 납 중독으로 쓰러지고 수백명이 목숨을 잃는 비극적인 사건이 아프리카에서 일어났다.

국제인권수호단체 휴먼라이츠워치(Human Rights Watch; HRW)가 7일 발표한 바에 따르면 나이지리아에서 지난 2년간 무려 400명의 아이들이 잠파라(Zamfara) 주 내의 금광에서 일하다 납 중독으로 사망하였으며 수천명이 긴급치료를 필요로 하고 있다고 한다.

HRW는 아이들은 광산에서 캐낸 광석을 추출해내는 과정에서 납 먼저를 흡입하였으며, 오염된 물과 음식으로 인해 추가로 납에 노출되었을 가능성이 있다고 설명했다.

현재 1,500명이 치료를 받았으나, 아직 중금속제거치료를 받지 못한 아이들은 수천에 이른다.

잠파라 주의 의료진은 어른들 사이에서도 불임과 유산 등이 발생했다고 밝혔다.

“잠파라 주에 사는 사람들이 생계 때문에 자신들과 아이들의 목숨을 맞바꿔서는 안될 것입니다,”라고 HRW의 바바툰데 올룩보지는 말했다.
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