MSF urges Nigeria to act over deadly lead poisoning

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MSF urges Nigeria to act over deadly lead poisoning

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A leading charity has criticised the Nigerian government for not doing enough to tackle an outbreak of lead poisoning caused by unofficial gold mining that has killed 400 children.

Médecins Sans Frontières says thousands more are still at risk in the north of the country because of inaction by the authorities.

It’s hoping to bang heads together at a two-day conference in Nigeria’s capital Abuja.

Government ministers are being put under pressure to deliver on promises of more than three million euros worth of funding to deal with the problem.

“There are 1,500 more children in a village called Bagega who are still living in contaminated circumstances. We cannot treat them, they are suffering, they are dying and there is nothing we can do because if they are not living in clean circumstances, we can’t help them with medical treatment; medical treatment is ineffective,” said Ivan Gayton, MSF’s head in Nigeria.

Faced with acute poverty close to the Sahara, the temptation to abandon farming for gold mining is strong.

But in the process of breaking rocks open, miners become dusted with lead which pollutes their homes.

The authorities have told them to stop but MSF wants better education.