By Fungai Maboreke, Special to the NNPA from the Global Information Network –
(NNPA) A settlement of $260 million owed to citizens of the West African nation of Ivory Coast, victims of a nighttime dumping of toxic trash by a foreign barge, must be found and distributed, says the rights group Amnesty International.
According to the group, only a handful of the 92,000 victims received any payment and the money paid to the former government of Laurent Gbagbo is largely unaccounted for. “It’s unacceptable that so many people …have not received the compensation they are entitled to,” said Benedetta Lacey, special advisor to Amnesty on the 5th anniversary of the disaster.
Hundreds of tons of highly toxic oil waste were offloaded in Abidjan, the country’s commercial capital, on Aug. 19, 2006. Later it was learned that the British company, Trafigura, was fully aware that its waste was so toxic that it was banned in Europe. More than 100,000 Ivorians required medical attention and 12 victims appeared to show fatal levels of the poisonous gas hydrogen sulphide, one of the waste's lethal byproducts.
Trafigura agreed to pay $195 million for about 95,000 victims. A second payment of $20 million was approved as final payment for additional costs and clean-up expenses.
But a group calling itself the National Coordination of Toxic Waste Victims of Cote d’Ivoire managed to hijack some of the funds. Much of the money is now missing and the head of the group has disappeared.
Genevieve Diallo, of the victims’ group next to Akouedo dumpsite said: “On the 5th anniversary, we must think about the victims… “Those who have misappropriated the money must be brought to justice. Justice must be done.”
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