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May 10, 2012

Sophie Okonedo, Oscar-Nominated Actress Joins The Fight Against Oil Spills In The Niger Delta

OSCAR-NOMINATED actress Sophie Okonedo has joined other professionals in a new short film that aims to highlight the plight of millions affected by oil spills in the Niger Delta, Nigeria.

The British-Nigerian actress, known for films such as Mrs. Mandela, The Secret Life of Bees and Hotel Rwanda, was among professionals who appeared in the two-minute film, called Livelihoods.

In one shocking moment, Okonedo appears to have oil or blood dripping from her lips.

Film creators human rights organisation Amnesty International said Livelihoods throws a spotlight on the devastating impact of oil pollution across the oil-rich Niger Delta region and how it has ruined the livelihoods of millions of local people.

Amnesty released the film on April 24, and also called on oil giant Shell to take responsibility for the fallout from several oil spills in the region.

It was at the start of a week of protests by thousands of people in the United Kingdom (UK) and around the world. They are calling for Royal Dutch Shell to finance a US$1 billion fund to begin the clean up in the region.

Amnesty also called on the UK public to sign its global petition calling for Shell to take action. "We are aiming for 10,000 signatures from the UK," Amnesty said.

Black Delta
Amnesty International UK's Director Kate Allen said: "What we're seeing unfolding across the Niger Delta is nothing short of a human rights catastrophe, and this has inspired Sophie Okonedo and several others to join Amnesty's campaign calling on Shell to clean up and pay up."

Allen continued: "The Niger Delta was once a beautiful wetland teeming with fish. And it supported a population of nearly 40 million people, but over the last 50 years, an estimated nine to 13 million barrels of oil have been spilt in the Niger Delta ..."

"It's left a devastating legacy that has destroyed the livelihoods of nearly everyone living there. The fish they catch, the water they drink and the air they breathe are all severely contaminated by oil pollution."

The group blamed Shell for causing these problems. "It is time they cleaned up their mess and adequately compensated the people of the Niger Delta," Amnesty said.

Shell said in a statement to Nigerian newspaper THISDAY that it had previously admitted liability for two spills of about 4,000 barrels in one Niger Delta community, Bodo, caused by operational failures, as soon as their cause was verified in late 2008 and early 2009.

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