From Armed Groups to Politicians: The Same Dirty Game to Destroy Virunga

Virunga National Park has for more than two decades been going through a period characterized by various threats due not only to the activism of armed groups but also to the pressure exerted by local communities on natural resources, a phenomenon resulting from manipulations on the part of certain political leaders.

Faced with this last problem, it is inconceivable that some opinion leaders, including parliamentarians, would support, for undisclosed reasons, the invasion of Virunga National Park area by farmers under the pretext that the population has increased.

At this rate we fear that in the near future, this park may be downgraded to satisfy selfish interests but with multiple, unpredictable and uncontrollable consequences. Can the elected representatives convince the public that there is no more arable land in our environment outside this protected area in the territories of RUTSHURU, WALIKALE, MASISI, LUBERO, BENI, etc.?

It is well known that the lands of Virunga NP originally belonged to the 12 customary chiefs before being erected as a protected area for noble reasons known to all, including the protection of a rare and endemic species, the Mountain Gorillas. It should be noted that as compensation, the landowners were granted the right to fish on Lake Edouard, which is an integral part of the Virunga National Park.

Today, this protected area delivers many benefits: Socio-economic with fisheries, tourism potential and recently several projects initiated by
Virunga Development; Ecological: the regulating role of the global climate by this park is today undeniable, thanks to its forest ecosystems and its imposing hydrographic network. We also recall that fishing activities have deteriorated due to certain opinion leaders who have endorsed the anarchy that has led to illegal fishing accompanied by a drastic decline in
the fish stock of Lake Edouard. This has pushed the Congolese fishermen into deficiency forcing them to violate Ugandan territorial waters even though we have 75% of the surface exploited in common. What a paradox!

Selling land to finance armed groups ?

Do you know that these fields in Virunga are not granted for free; where does the money from the illegal taxes that the peasants have to pay to access these fields in Virunga go? We know that there are illegal committees that collect money from the communities that
cultivate in Virunga; Isn’t this money being used for self-financing of certain armed groups and therefore contributes to the persistence of insecurity! On this subject we have evidence capable of being transmitted to whom it may concern or published in the media.

This is why, to militate for its destruction would be fatal for the future of all humanity. Sometimes we may want to solve a problem to create a more complex one.