International NGOs ask oil exploration to stop in Congolese Virunga park

Thirteen European NGOs, including Belgian organizations, asked the Congolese government in an open letter to stop the plans for oil exploration in the Virunga National Park in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The Virunga National Park, which was founded in 1925, lies on the border with Rwanda and is the oldest national park in Africa. It covers nearly 8,000 square kilometers and according to UNESCO has an “exceptional” biodiversity with more than 200 mammal species, including for example, the mountain gorilla and okapi.

Some oil companies, including the British SOCO and the French TOTAL, got in the summer of 2010  concessions to search for oil in the Virunga National Park from the Congolese government.

Despite protests from the international community and responses from bodies such as UNESCO, the EU and NGOs, the plans for oil exploration continue. The international NGOs, including Greenpeace and 11.11.11 have now written an open letter to the Congolese government in which they ask to “take into account the concerns that are expressed (…) by local communities in and around the Virunga National Park, which are faced with the prospect of oil exploration and exploitation” says 11.11.11.

The letter was handed over on Saturday, May 4 to Kabila and the Congolese ministries.

Read the letter in EN

Translated and adapted from the Dutch article: Ngo’s vragen olie-exploratie in Congolees natuurpark Virunga stop te zetten

Source: HLN © AFP.