Issues and Local Voices

What is Happening in Virunga and with the Communities?

Virunga National Park

The Virunga National Park  is Africa’s oldest and most biodiverse park. It is a 7800 square km National Park that stretches from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, in the eastern Democratic Republic of Congo, bordering Rwanda and Uganda.

The Oil Threat

The park’s future is threatened: oil has been discovered, and the Congolese government has awarded three concessions for oil exploration, which cover 85% of the park. Oil becomes the most important threat to the park, to the communities and to the ecosystem.

Lake Edward

Lake Edward is one of the Great African Lakes, on the border between the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda.
The lake was named by the explorer Henry Morton Stanley in honour of Prince Albert Edward, The Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII.

The Oil Company

SOCO International plc is an international oil and gas exploration and production company, headquartered in London. SOCO holds rights on the oil concession in BLOCK V (85%).SOCO’s contract allows them access to a big part of Virunga National Park threatening the park with disruptive seismic tests, forest clearing, underground drilling and the laying of oil pipelines.

The Communities

Virunga’s fauna and flora, as well as the political and security situation in the Great Lakes region are tied closely to the people and to the protection and preservation of this ecosystem. Disruptions in one element will lead automatically to changes in the others.

The local Defenders

Since the beginning of SOCO’s exploration operations in Virunga National Park, Environmental and Human Rights defenders have been fighting for the survival of the park and the respect of community rights. Many of them are facing threats when fighting for Virunga and promoting the sustainable development option for the region and communities.

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Save Virunga brings out the power of local communities and conveys their messages to protect Virunga and preserve the integrity of its ecosystems for future generations.
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Latest Updates

By Esther Nsapu, correspondent in Eastern DRC In a consortium in Goma, seven environmental civil society organizations from the North Kivu province called “Alliance for Green Livelihoods” (GLA) are protesting against the proposal of the Minister of Hydrocarbons, to decommission some of the Virunga and Salonga National Parks to conduct oil exploration and exploitation. The… Read More

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September 24 marks World Gorilla Day, when humanity celebrates one of its closest relatives, sharing 98 percent of our DNA as we do, plus we also have a common ancestor that lived not too long ago in evolutionary terms, around 10 million years ago. All species of gorillas are critically endangered according to the Red… Read More

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The communities bordering Virunga National Park (North Kivu) presented on Wednesday, September 26, in Kinshasa, a collective petition addressed to President Joseph Kabila to say “no to any initiative to degazette national parks Virunga and Salonga or decommission one of their areas to accommodate oil exploitation to the detriment of humanity and the local communities… Read More

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The relationship between human rights and the environment has evolved rapidly over the past five decades, and even more so over the past five years. The greening of well-established human rights, including the rights to life, health, food, water, housing, culture, development, property and home and private life, has contributed to improvements in the health… Read More

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Space for Nature, by Jonathan Baillie and Ya-Ping Zhang Editorial from Science published by the American Association for the Advancement of Science. How much of the planet should we leave for other forms of life? This is a question humanity must now grapple with. The global human population is 7.6 billion and anticipated to increase… Read More

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Drillers in the Mist: how secret payments and a climate of violence helped SOCO International open Africa’s oldest national park to oil. This emblematic case highlights how secret payments and a climate of violence in Eastern DRC helped SOCO International open Virunga National park, a UNESCO World heritage site, to oil exploration with financial support… Read More

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What Our Supporters Think

 “For all of the people in the local communities of Virunga: We are listening, and we stand with you to protect Virunga and to protect the people in the Virunga region.”

“The idea of drilling a UNESCO world heritage site for oil is shocking. We have to keep it for future generations and protect the inhabiting species and not let them disappear in front of our eyes. I pray that the organisations and governments can put enough pressure on the DRC to recall any licences for oild explorations.”

“Thanks as always for these updates on the situation with oil exploration in Virunga.”

“A perfect and intelligent representation of the plight of the gorilla and draws all our attention to what is happening to this and so many other endangered species that we say we treasure-do we really?”

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