[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2010/images/06/30/t1larg_oil_afp_gi.jpg caption="Nigeria has suffered devastating oil pollution in Delta region over 50 years" width=300 height=169]
Nigeria's Niger Delta is one of the most oil-polluted places on the planet with more than 6,800 recorded oil spills, accounting for anywhere from 9 million to 13 million barrels of oil spilled, according to activist groups.
But occurring over the 50 years since oil production began in the Delta, this environmental disaster has never received the attention that is now being paid to the oil-spill catastrophe hitting the U.S. Gulf coast.
"The whole world is trembling and even the president of America had to do a personal visit to the site. The U.S. will have put serious measures in place to stop such situations happening in the future," said Ken Tebe - a local environmental activist who is visibly shaken by what he regards as a double standard.
"It's funny because we've been dealing with this problem for 50 years. I even heard BP will pay $20 billion in damages (for the U.S. spill). When will such hope come to the Niger Delta?" Tebe asked.
The Plateau State in central Nigeria is home to 50 ethnic groups and simmering local tensions.
Gangs of machete-wielding Muslims have been blamed for the weekend slaughter of hundreds of Christian villagers in Nigeria, but analysts say it would be wrong to assume the conflict was rooted in religion.
Men armed with gun, knives and machetes launched a pre-dawn attack on the villages of Dogo Nahawa, Zot, and Ratsat, south of the city of Jos, on Sunday, setting fire to homes and killing at least two hundred people.
The government, led by acting President Goodluck Jonathan, has issued a red alert for the region amid fears of revenge attacks and calls for justice by the United Nations and Human Rights Watch.
Filed under: Nigeria
Editor’s note: CNN’s award-winning Planet in Peril returns this year to examine the conflict between growing populations and natural resources. Anderson Cooper, Dr. Sanjay Gupta, and Lisa Ling travel to the front lines of this worldwide battle. Ling has been a co-host of The View, correspondent for The Oprah Winfrey Show, National Geographic and Channel One. She filed this blog from Nigeria.
AC360° Special Correspondent
I’m so upset by what I experienced here today that I can barely think straight.
I’m in the Niger Delta in southern Nigeria, a place essential to the U.S. economy.
The communities along the delta literally live atop a virtual goldmine—black gold that literally make’s the world’s engines run. Oil. Underneath the surface of the ground here, lies one of the richest sources of crude oil on the planet.
Nigeria is the 5th largest supplier of oil to the United States and is the 12th biggest oil producer in the world. It was discovered here in the 1950’s, and big oil companies have been pumping hundreds of billions of dollars worth of oil out of the ground here ever since. Over the years, it’s made some people colossally rich. Colossally.
Logic would suggest that the people living above this tremendously lucrative resource would benefit from its riches. But the situation here defies logic. The millions of people who live along the delta are considered some of the world’s poorest. There is no electricity and clean water and basic services like medicine and quality education are severely lacking.
How can this be?
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