Nigeria: Crude amnesty

August 2010

One year after it was announced – can the amnesty of the militants in the Niger Delta bring lasting peace?

Militant groups in the Niger Delta first emerged in the early 1990s composed mostly of young men unable to find work. Many voiced a political agenda, protesting against environmental degradation and the underdevelopment and sub-standard living conditions of the Delta’s roughly 30 million residents. Their attacks had a direct impact on Nigeria’s oil production and even global oil prices.

But militants were also dying in army attacks across the Delta, leading eventually to both sides entering secret talks about how to end the conflict. On August 6, 2009, the government of Nigeria offered an amnesty to militants in the Niger Delta region. Over the following 60 days 20,000 emerged from their camps accepting the government’s unconditional pardon and the promise of cash payments and training in return for their weapons.

One year after the amnesty was declared Al Jazeera’s Juliana Ruhfus returned to the Niger Delta to see how effective this it has been and finds unemployed and disillusioned ex-militants and an ever-growing environmental catastrophe – proving that the root causes of the conflict have not been addressed …

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