The UN report goes on to address the chain of events that lead to the discovery of the problem. I strongly urge, as with the Arcadia report, that readers examine the report for themselves because it is incredibly educational and well written.
To paraphrase the story, from this UN report and other reporting on the subject, the day after Christmas, 2004, Somalia was hit by a tsunami. Walls of water hit the beaches and communities, and created huge medical emergencies as well as, obviously, massive homelessness.
The strange leaking canisters washed ashore with the powerful waves. Over the weeks and months that followed, the already demolished, impoverished people began to complain of illnesses. Strange ones.
“‘Somalia has been used as a dumping ground for hazardous waste starting in the early 1990s, and continuing through the civil war there,’ he said.
“‘European companies found it to be very cheap to get rid of the waste, costing as little as $2.50 a tonne, where waste disposal costs in Europe are something like $1000 a tonne.
“Nuttall also said that since the containers came ashore, hundreds of residents have fallen ill, suffering from mouth and abdominal bleeding, skin infections and other ailments.
" ‘We [the UNEP] had planned to do a proper, in-depth scientific assessment on the magnitude of the problem. But because of the high levels of insecurity onshore and off the Somali coast, we are unable to carry out an accurate assessment of the extent of the problem,’ he said.
“However, Ould-Abdallah claims the practice still continues.
‘What is most alarming here is that nuclear waste is being dumped. Radioactive uranium waste that is potentially killing Somalis and completely destroying the ocean,’ he said.”
This isn’t just some radical hippie, or some far left activist group saying this now; this is an envoy to the UN using the phrase “destroying the ocean.”
Naturally, as much as the UN would love to get in and make assessments, many of the residents of Somalia have absolutely no interest, or trust, in foreigners coming to their country to ‘help’. Not anymore.
Clearly it is an amazing feat that companies could - to use the word most commonly associated with pirates - brazenly continue to dump illegal, hazardous, destructive wastes on a people who have done nothing to them, who are completely powerless and completely devastated. Most criminals would only return to the scene of the crime under serious duress, and then only to commit a cover-up of the events.
Certainly no criminal would return to the scene of a massive crime, a geological disaster, only in order to continue committing it.
But there is an excellent reason this continues: they are not criminals if they in fact get to make the laws, get to pay the lawmakers and enforcers, and get to dangle the rights to home, food, medicine, and education over the other 99% of the population.
Even the outraged UN envoy, the man on the scene, knew exactly how far he could go in his outrage:
“Ould-Abdallah declined to name which companies are involved in waste dumping, citing legal reasons.”
This has to be viewed by any proponent of the rich and powerful elite as a major victory. Geological, nearly genocidal crimes committed, and absolutely anyone with any standing terrified to mention names. And of course without names there are no official criminals.
“But he did say the practice helps fuel the 18-year-old civil war in Somalia as companies are paying Somali government ministers to dump their waste, or to secure licenses and contracts.
"’There is no government control ... and there are few people with high moral ground ... [and] yes, people in high positions are being paid off, but because of the fragility of the TFG [Transitional Federal Government], some of these companies now no longer ask the authorities – they simply dump their waste and leave.’
It would be difficult for any normal person to receive this kind of news and stay calm. To restrain the outpouring of outrage. It is difficult for me, and I am thousands of miles away, and am in fact a beneficiary of my country’s policies towards the Least Developed Nations.
I confess I don’t even have the imagination large enough, capable enough, to imagine what my reaction would be if my home were anywhere in Africa, let alone Somalia itself.