Tsunami stirs up toxic waste on Somalia's shores

Toxic waste has washed up on Somalia’s shores almost two months after the devastating tsunami that struck countries bordering the Indian Ocean, according to a study by the United Nations Environment Programme presented on Tuesday in Nairobi.

The waste had been illegally sunk in the ocean years earlier, according to the report, which highlighted the dramatic consequences the tsunami has had on the environment.

The UN study, entitled After the Tsunami—Rapid Environmental Assessment focused on the long-term effects of the tsunami.

According to the report: “The tsunami has washed up toxic waste on beaches. Many people in Somalia’s impacted areas are complaining of unusual health problems including acute respiratory infections, mouth bleeds and skin conditions.”

Experts estimate that it costs about $2,50 to sink a tonne of toxic waste off the African Coast compared to $250 that would have to be paid in Europe.

Experts have also recommended not to repeat mistakes made in the past and not to build in vulnerable areas.

Mangroves and coral reefs had to be preserved as they could form flood barriers.

UNEP’s Executive Director, Klaus Toepfer said: “Where healthy and relatively intact features like coral reefs, mangroves and coastal vegetation were in place, there is evidence that the damage was reduced. There are innumerable reasons to maintain healthy habitats like coral reefs. They are nurseries for fish and magnets for tourists. Now we have another reason to conserve them.” - Sapa-DPA

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