Not less than 400 children have died of lead poisoning in Zamfara State since 2010 while another 3,500 children who are affected by the same problem, are in need of urgent medical treatment.
This revelation was made by the Human Rights Watch, an international non-governmental organisation (NGO) that has been in the forefront of fighting for the protection of human rights by governments.
The Deputy Programme Director of the NGO, Babatunde Olugboji, while addressing journalists, in Lagos, yesterday, said, “Thousands of children in northern Nigeria need immediate medical treatment and dozens of villages remain contaminated two years into the worst lead poisoning epidemic in modern history.”
The organisation which released a video on the issue, also said that, “Four hundred children have died, according to official estimates, yet environmental cleanup efforts have not even begun in numerous affected villages.”
The NGO further stated that the artisanal gold mines which are found throughout Zamfara State in northwestern Nigeria and high levels of lead in the earth and the use of rudimentary mining methods had resulted in an epidemic of lead poisoning among children.
Human Rights Watch said that its research in Zamfara in late 2011 found that children were exposed to this lead dust when they process ore in the mines, when their miner relatives’ return home covered with lead dust, and when the lead-filled ore is manually or mechanically crushed at home.