Stronger measures urged to protect people from toxic waste in Kazakhstan

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Waste. Photo: UNEP

The government of Kazakhstan needs to step up its efforts to protect people living in environmentally high risk-areas.

That's the conclusion of a UN independent expert dealing with human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, at the end of his mission to the country on Wednesday.

Baskut Tuncak noted that the government has taken positive steps to mitigate the impacts of hazardous substances and wastes on human rights.

Cathrine Hasselberg has more.

The UN Special Rapporteur on human rights and hazardous substances and wastes, who reports to the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva, spent 14 days in Kazakhstan visiting cities and towns.

The Central Asian country is known for pollution attributed to the oil and gas industry, metal extraction and processing, uranium and coal production and industrial emission of wastes.

Baskut Tuncak said that residents of contaminated areas are struggling everyday with the air they breathe, the water they drink and the food they eat.

The population has many health problems linked to contamination from refineries, mining sites, toxic and radioactive waste and dumps around their homes, the expert added.

He said the people live in fear, many don't know what to do, some have given up and others are waiting to be relocated to a safer environment.

"But all of them want an effective and timely solution" the UN independent expert stressed.

Cathrine Hasselberg, United Nations

Duration: 0’59″

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