Ivory Coast toxic spill victims hope for reparations

April 22, 2015 8:08 am
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One of the sites of the 2006 dumping of toxic waste by the Probo Koala ship in the Ivory Coast/AFP
One of the sites of the 2006 dumping of toxic waste by the Probo Koala ship in the Ivory Coast/AFP
ABIDJAN, Ivory Coast, Apr 22 – Andoudoua Blonde says he will have to live forever with blindness in one eye, headaches and skin rashes caused by a 2006 dumping of toxic waste near his farm in Ivory Coast.

Like thousands of others, he says he still has not received any compensation for his suffering from the European multinational oil trader Trafigura, which offloaded the materials at the port of Abidjan, the west African nation’s capital.

“I cannot bear to tell myself that something so serious could happen without reparations,” said 42-year-old Blonde, whose manioc field was near a site contaminated by the waste and who remembers “its incredibly foul stench”.

“Giving up now would be too hard,” he added.

While Trafigura has paid out some 185 million euros ($198 million) in settlements — much of it to the government, according to 2007 presidential records — victims’ advocates consider it a ridiculously small amount given the tens of thousands of people hurt.

And many victims like Blonde say they have gotten nothing at all.

Other funds ended up in the hands of ruthless scammers who in some cases were aided by the police, according to humanitarian sources.

Now more than 100,000 victims are making one last charge for compensation for their ordeal, but it is unclear how far they will get.

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