Nairobi, 22 November 2010 - Newspaper reports over the past few days have given the impression that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - which is conducting an assessment of the impacts of oil pollution in Ogoniland at the request of the Government of Nigeria - has taken a position or formed an opinion as to the causes of such spills.
UNEP has, and never will, take such a position. Its scientific survey in Ogoniland is not about forming an opinion or passing judgment on the causes of the oil spills - current or historical.
UNEP would like to reiterate that its ongoing assessment, being carried out in cooperation and consultation with regional and local authorities and communities, is examining the location, nature, extent and implications of oil contamination in Ogoniland.
UNEP appreciates the support its project team has received from communities across all parts of Ogoniland, which has underpinned the significant progress made so far.
The fieldwork by UNEP's scientific teams is firmly focused on collecting samples of water, soil, sediment, air and plant and animal tissue, with the on-the-ground activities due to be completed in December 2010 after which there will be further laboratory analysis.
An assessment report will provide a compilation of all results and present options to the government and all interested parties on the most appropriate measures to clean up the area's environment. It is due to be presented to the Government of Nigeria in early 2011.
The assessment is part of a longer term goal to remediate contaminated sites for the benefit of local communities and people living in parts of the Niger Delta and for the region's sustainable development.
UNEP has over several years secured the confidence of the international community in many challenging regions of the world from the Balkans and Afghanistan to Gaza and Sudan.
The same professionalism and independence shown in these situations is being exercised in respect to UNEP's work in Nigeria and UNEP is extremely concerned that some current and previous newspaper reports are continuing to misrepresent its activities in Ogoniland.
For more information please contact:
Nick Nuttall UNEP Spokesperson, +254 733 632 755, firstname.lastname@example.org