“South Sudan is running one of the dirtiest and poorest managed oil operations on the planet,” said Egbert Wesselink, the former head of a European coalition of more than 50 non-profit organisations focused on the impacts of the country's oil sector. He worked on the oil fields in South Sudan before the country gained independence in 2011, and now works with PAX, a Dutch-based human rights organisation.
Community leaders and politicians in the oil-rich areas in Upper Nile and Unity state accuse South Sudan's government and the two main oil consortiums, the Chinese-led Dar Petroleum Operating Co and the Greater Pioneer Operating Co, of neglecting the issue and trying to silence those who have tried to expose the problem.
Phillips Anyang Ngong, a human rights lawyer, explained, “Companies are violating the law and the government is not intervening. It's a crisis that needs immediate attention now.”
Health experts with experience tackling oil pollution say companies often try to hide any connection between pollution and health problems.