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Calls for probe into Iran toxic waste dumped in Eritrea

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By Tesfa-Alem Tekle

June 10, 2014 (ADDIS ABABA) – An Eritrean opposition political organisation, the Red Sea Afar Democratic Organisation (RSADO) on Tuesday renewed its appeal up on the international community to investigate hazardous waste allegedly dumped inside the Red Sea nation.

In an interview with Sudan Tribune, RSADO’s leader, Ibrahim Haron, said the international community has gave “deaf ears” in responding to the group’s first official appeal in 2010, when a brown coloured toxic waste materials were first detected.

While strongly denouncing what he said was the Eritrea government’s “irresponsible and criminal acts” the opposition official alleged that the nuclear and industrial toxic wastes were exported from Iran to Eritrea in exchange of money.

Haron said the toxic wastes were dumped in Southern Red Sea region of Danakelia area and by the coastal lines of the Red Sea, where tens of thousands of Afar ethnic minority largely depend on fishery to survive.

Sudan Tribune can’t independently verify these allegations. Since the dumping was reported in 2010, the government in Asmara has never reacted over these series allegations.

The group said the adverse effects of the toxic waste materials has started to affect thousands of people, animals and the natural resources, one way or the other adding the consequences will continue to affect the generations to come.

“Sadly, such in human act has started to seriously harm the mothers, children of the Red Sea Afar communities living in the areas where the toxic waste materials are thought buried and its vicinities,” Haron said.

As a result he added, the number of mothers with breast cancer is steadily rising while the physical and mental characters of new born babies and children have been observed.

“RSADO has strived to send few number of its members to the area and confirmed that there are cases of cancerous tumours, which affects fishermen around their legs and inflammation legs that deterred their physical movements,” he said.

If true, Iran’s dumping of toxic waste in Eritrea will be in breach of the Basel Convention on the Control of Trans-boundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal, which came into force in 1992.

EU member states, as well as 168 other countries have signed this convention which prohibits waste trade between countries signatory to the convention.

It also prohibits non signatory countries from making secret bilateral agreement of Trans-boundary hazardous waste exports.

The reclusive Eritrean nation since gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993 is being led by President Isaias Afeworki, making him one of the few remaining dictatorial leaders in Africa.

The Eritrean leader has zero tolerance for dissent and the country doesn’t have any legally functioning opposition party inside.

All opposition groups were forced to exile with at least 12 of them operating in neighbouring Ethiopia.

Recently Afeworki, announced that the ruling People’s Front for Democracy and Justice (PFDJ) party is launching to draft a new constitution but opposition politicians downplayed his pledge saying it was one of his “usual dirty political games” aimed to uphold grip on power.

(ST)

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