Press Release: 24th September 2021
Goma, DRC – On Friday, environmental activists and community members in the Democratic Republic of Congo delivered a petition calling for an end to oil exploration in Virunga National Park to parliamentarians, for delivery to President Felix Tshisekedi. The activists highlighted the challenges posed by oil exploration in the park, to the environment, local communities, as well as endangered species in the park. The park, which is Africa’s oldest national park, has been under threat following the issuance of oil exploration licenses in the park by the government.
The climate activists also held a screening of the recently released ‘Fossil Free Virunga’ film at University libre de Pays du Grand Lac in Goma. The short film which was released by 350Africa.org on 30th June 2021, featured climate activists exposing the dangers of oil exploration activities in the park.
Christian Hounkannou of 350.org said,
“Virunga national park is one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world. Oil exploration activities in the park and its surrounding areas could permanently damage the rich ecosystems and biodiversity of the area, and negatively impact hundreds of thousands of community members whose livelihoods depend on the park’s resources and activities. The government of DRC needs to put the environment and the people first, as opposed to furthering the interests of the companies that have been granted permits for oil exploration.”
Pascal Mirindi of Extinction Rebellion said,
“If protected, the park will drive economic growth in the area and uplift local communities. The government should thus act in the interest of its citizens by protecting them and creating opportunities that safeguard the communities’ livelihoods and preserve the natural resources in the region. Access to clean energy is an integral part of sustainable development and commitments to mitigate climate change should be driving efforts to develop sources of renewable energy.”
Justin Mutabesha of AJVDC said,
“The need to hasten our efforts and support the drive for ecosystem preservation and clean energy access for all is critical. It should therefore be the government’s priority to ensure that no oil exploration or pollution occurs in Virunga and to accelerate sustainable livelihoods for the people and rich ecosystems of the area.”
Virunga National Park may be auctioned in a new series of oil permits putting at risk not only endangered species, but also the sources of income for many local communities.
Notes for Editors
Fossil Free Virunga Film
Fossil Free Virunga is a short film by 350Africa.org, which was released on the 30th June 2021. The film highlights the dangers posed to the Virunga National Park and neighbouring communities by oil exploration activities in the area.
Virunga National Park
Virunga is Africa’s oldest national park and a UNESCO World heritage site, located in the eastern part of the Democratic Republic of Congo. It is also one of the most biologically diverse areas in the world and home to the endangered mountain gorillas. Between 2005 – 2010, the Government of DRC, through its Ministry of Hydrocarbons, approved licenses for oil concessions to foreign fossil fuel companies like Efora, Total, Socco, Dominion Petroleum to explore and operate seismic tests. This move was in violation of Ordinance-Law 69-041 of August 22, 1969, on nature conservation and international conventions ratified by the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).
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