Plastic pollution: West can’t dump its waste on Africa – Kenny MacAskill

Wars fought with weapons exported from developed countries, economic problems and environmental degradation are among the reasons why people leave developing countries in search of a better life, writes Kenny MacAskill.

I don’t know why poor 
Mercy Baguma died or what brought her here. But it’s a tragedy that is going to be repeated unless we change how we treat these desperate people. Moreover, it won’t be the Royal Navy that will stop them coming but what the developed world does in their lands.

Some are fleeing wars or conflicts that we participated in or fuel through weaponry. That’s reprehensible and must stop. The UK’s fingerprints are all over armaments causing a humanitarian disaster in Yemen.

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But there is economic and environmental damage which we’re also culpable of and that’s forcing people to flee their families and their native land. Debt and tariffs are well known but still aren’t being resolved.

Less well known is the environmental damage that’s being done and it’s not just the disproportionate effect of climate change upon lands that haven’t had the industrial emissions to cause it. It’s also what we dump upon them.

An article in the New York Times, headlined “Big Oil Is in Trouble. Its Plan: Flood Africa With Plastic”, highlighted that and perhaps worse to come.

The oil industry is eyeing up Kenya, and perhaps even Africa as a whole, for the dumping of the developed world’s plastic. China having ceased being the repository – because of recycling requirements now imposed by many nations – means that greedy eyes are turning to that poor downtrodden continent.

Pollution is a killer already without added blight. To stop people fleeing, it needs to be safe and habitable to stay. Stop supplying bombs, but equally, stop dumping rubbish. Recycling begins at home, not on foreign shores.

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