DRC: Oil Exploitation Threatens Virunga and Salonga Parks

A petition gathering more than 23,000 signatures opposes the exploitation of oil in Virunga and Salonga parks.

© Getty Images/Rob Kroenert

Communities bordering Virunga Park continue to raise awareness about any oil exploitation initiative in this UNESCO World Heritage Park. Already in September 2018, they had sent to the Presidency of the Republic, a petition signed by over 23,000 people to say “no to any initiative to decommission or decommission the national parks of Virunga and Salonga for the exploitation of the ‘black gold “. Thursday, October 11 in Goma, a press conference was organized to increase the pressure vis-à-vis the Congolese authorities.

The Minister of Hydrocarbons of the DRC has obtained the authorization to set up, with his colleague from the Environment and Sustainable Development, a commission whose mission is to prepare the decommissioning file for an oil-oriented zone in the parks of the DRC, Salonga and Virunga.

This initiative does not please local communities. “Edward Lake has a lot of fish and other wildlife in the lake. If this exploitation is to be carried out, all these species are directly sacrificed ” explains John Banyene, the president of the North Kivu provincial coordination of the Civil Society / Forces Vives.

The cabinet of the President of the Republic had promised in September to the civil society that for the moment the oil should not be exploited in these parks, but the local organizations wait for more. “There is a legal act that was laid by the President of the Republic which is a presidential decree dating from 2010 that creates an oil bloc that is superimposed on the parks Virunga and Salonga, and today we believe that the end of our struggle will be the outright cancellation of this decree, ” says Michael Batakunda of the local organization Innovation for Development and Environmental Protection.

Civil society in Rwanda and Uganda also intends to support Congolese organizations in this fight. A first meeting was organized in Goma this Friday, October 12th on this subject.

Source: RFI

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