PRESS RELEASE: February 11, 2021
Kinshasa and Goma – In response to the decision to grant oil exploration licences in the biodiversity-rich and globally important Virunga and Salonga National Parks. Today, a coalition of civil society groups and local communities have called on their elected officials to immediately put an end to the process for granting oil exploration licences in these parks. The NGOs delivered petitions and letters in Kinshasa to the Office of the President, Ministry of Environment, Energy and Hydrocarbure, while in Goma they went to the Office of the Governor, Provincial Ministry of Environment, Energy and Hydrocarbure.
Speaking after the handover of petitions in Kinshasa, Andre Moliro, an activist in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) said:
“The decision to allow the exploration of oil is a threat to the Virunga National Park, home to the critically-endangered mountain gorillas and many other endemic species.
I call on President Tshisekedi and his Government to cancel any oil exploration contracts signed in the past, and not undertake any future oil exploration activities in the protected areas in DRC.
We agree that access to energy is an integral part of economic development and President Felix Tshisekedi and his government should strictly adhere to the laws of the Republic and international conventions on protecting the environment and community rights and prioritise renewable energy options which are safer and abundant.”
Speaking in Goma, Ephrem Bwishe, and activist in the DRC said:
“The communities living adjacent to Virunga and Salonga Parks depend on fisheries, farming and tourism and this will be greatly affected if oil exploration is allowed to continue.
We urge our leaders not to put at risk our lives, economies, ecosystems and resources. The government is an ally of the citizens of DRC and should act in their interests to protect and create opportunities that benefit the community’s livelihood and preserve the natural resources in the region.
We are calling upon the government to promote and protect local communities’ and farmers’ rights, prioritising investments in renewable energies across DRC and alternative economic activities within protected areas that promote the sustainable development of local economies while ensuring the country generates much-needed income.”
For interviews and additional information contact:
Phone +243 994 067 354
Phone +243 811 607 726
The online version of the petition can be found here: https://act.350.org/act/non_a_lexploitation_virunga_en/
About Virunga National Park
Virunga National Park was listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, and is the continent’s most biologically diverse area. Together with Salonga National Park, this area is home to 43% of Africa’s bird species, 27% of African mammals and more than 10% of these reptiles, amphibians, medicinal plants and several other rare endangered species that do not exist anywhere else in the world.
This rich biodiversity that supports the livelihoods of millions of people is threatened by a series of licenses for oil exploration by the government of the Democratic Republic of Congo, through the Ministry of Hydrocarbons.