KEY MESSAGE FROM CONGO PARK’S RANGERS ON THE SIDELINE OF THE CEREMONY TO COMMEMORATE THE FALLEN RANGERS KILLED DURING THE EXERCISE OF THEIR FUNCTIONS TO PROTECT THE PHYSICAL INTEGRITY OF VIRUNGA NATIONAL PARK AND ITS BIODIVERSITY
Madam, State Secretary in charge of Conservation and Environment,
Mr. Ambassador of the United States in the DRC,
On this day of February 23, 2022, we rangers of Virunga National Park and in concert with all the rangers of the national parks of the DRC, we are honored by your commitment to the cause of preservation of the rich biodiversity that our national parks contain. This is expressed by your will and that of your country, the USA, to enhance with your presence the commemoration ceremony to our valiant fallen rangers murdered during the exercise of their functions protecting the soil, the fauna and flora of Virunga National Park.
In a space of 10 years, ViNP has lost, through assassinations, 211 park rangers and most have fallen on the field of honor during patrols to protect the park’s natural resources against the illicit exploitation carried out by armed groups and some other power holders. All the national parks remain exposed to the illicit exploitation of their natural resources and the staff that fights against remains the target of people who want to enrich themselves illicitly in great defiance of the Law on the conservation of nature.
Unfortunately, the courts and tribunals of the DRC are unable to ensure reparations for the victims of this atrocities, by prosecuting and condemning the perpetrators of these mass murders of park rangers followed by the mass destruction of biodiversity (fauna and flora ).
Faced with this reality that we live in DRC national parks and in the concern of seeing the DRC contribute to the fight against global warming, we address the following recommendations and major concerns to you:
1. Assist park rangers in persuading the international community that the killings of our conservation personnel and the destruction of natural resources, for illicit enrichment, political propaganda, rebellion or military operation, be held up as an environmental crime to be referred to the International Criminal Court.
2. Ask the Congolese Government to respect the national and international agreements to which it is a signatory with regard to the preservation of certain national parks (Virunga, Kahuzi-Biega, Garamba, Salonga, RFO/Epulu, Upemba) declared World Heritage of Unesco Humanity and RAMSAR site.
3. That the US Treasury extend its actions to any legal or natural person who destroys or otherwise supports the destruction of national parks declared national and world heritage sites.
Thus, as a nation, you will have contributed in particular to the sustainable preservation of the biodiversity of national parks in general and to the fight against global warming.
For the VIRUNGA Rangers,
Rodrigue Mugaruka Katembo