By El Hadji Cheikh Anta SECK, Ambassador of the DHR in Senegal
For nearly ten days now, Senegal has been flirting with an environmental drama with the mysterious discovery of hydrocarbon-like products on the shores of the Atlantic Ocean, more precisely at Thiaroye Su Mer (a locality located about ten kilometres from the city centre and from where the Island of Gorée can be seen).
At a time when the debate on large-scale action is taking place regarding responses to climate change, in the face of this worrying situation, the Senegalese authorities have remained indifferent. No action has been taken. No response has been made to prevent any drama that could be caused by this black liquid that experts from the African Refining Society (SAR) have allegedly assimilated to crude oil. They also reportedly pointed out that the liquid did not come from their pipelines.
Since this liquid was discovered on these sites, not a day goes by without young people extracting this product, which is accessible at “skin deep”. Waves only have to scour the beach to see the “crude oil” beading on the shores. Without masks, without precautions, among other safety measures, it is with their hands that they dig out the product which they fill into bottles for unknown destinations. Worse still, children on the beach have started playing fire with this product, which is as flammable as oil. For more than six months, the surrounding population has been alerting people about the altered taste of the water they use for their daily activities of preparing meals or other uses.
As an Ambassador for the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (DHR) on climate change, we have appealed to the first authority responsible for this situation, namely the Minister of the Environment and Sustainable Development. (Phone calls, SMS and social networks). Without any reaction from him.
Now we are calling directly on the President of the Republic, Macky Sall, for strict measures to be taken to deal with this issue. The safety of the people of Thiaroye Sur Mer is in danger. Only two SAGAM agents, assisted by the SAR, are on the spot with a safety perimeter that borders on notorious amateurism.
Swimming and other activities continue on the beach. And the first consequences have started to appear with itching on a bather’s skin. He reveals that in the 40 years he has been frequenting this beach, it is the first time he has noticed this on his skin.
The Universal Declaration of Human Rights (DHR), in its 5th article on Human Rights states: “Humanity, like all living species, has the right to live in a healthy and ecologically sustainable environment”.
The Republic of Senegal, in its Constitution, under the heading of “Public and human freedoms, economic and social rights and collective rights”, in its 8th article, guarantees “all citizens fundamental individual freedoms, economic and social rights and collective rights”. These freedoms and rights include: civil and political freedoms: freedom of opinion, freedom of expression, freedom of the press, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, freedom of movement, freedom of demonstration, (…) the right to a healthy environment.
Article 3 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states: “Everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person”.