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DR Congo Lobbies Stakeholders To Condemn Rwanda For Supporting Rebels In Protected Areas

The M23 rebels are active in Virunga Park, a protected area of DR Congo.

The Democratic Republic of Congo, on Wednesday, July 20, called on participants at the first congress of the International Union for Nature Conservation on African protected areas held in Kigali, Rwanda, to condemn Rwanda for supporting rebels active in a natural park in the eastern DR Congo which is on the list of world patrimony.

“Knowing that the country that hosts you supports a rebel group, M23, which kills, loots and destroys a protected area inscribed on the list of world patrimony, namely the Virunga Park, should be condemned,” Modero Nsimba, the DR Congo Minister of Tourism told participants at the event.

“Let the participants at the Kigali meeting and the international community forcefully condemn Rwanda and rise to protect the Virunga Park, this world patrimony, just as the world unanimously rose when mosques in Timbuctu in Mali were attacked,”  he added.

“Failure to which, I would propose militarising protected areas in eastern DR Congo. It is normal that the Virunga Park should be managed by a Belgian, that British researchers come and work there whereas the whole world is indifferent to the drama imposed by Rwanda.”

Since the end of last year, a former Tutsi dominated rebellion, the M23 movement, which was defeated in 2013, has taken up arms again and taken control of several localities inside the Virunga National Park. DR Congo accuses Rwanda of supporting the rebels, an accusation Rwanda denies.

“The condemnation of aggressive countries would attract diplomatic consequences necessary during the current negotiations between DR Congo and Rwanda under the meditation of Angolan President Joao Lourenco,” explained Patrick Muyaya, the Congolese government spokesperson. 

The DR Congo government says because of the war; four dams are no longer producing electricity forcing the population to exercise intensive pressure on the forests by felling trees to use as firewood for cooking.

The country says it has reserved 13.7 per cent of its land mass for conservation and intends to increase it to 17 per cent.


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Chief Bisong Etahoben

Chief Bisong Etahoben is a Cameroonian investigative journalist and traditional ruler. He writes for international media and has participated in several transnational investigations. Etahoben won the first-ever Cameroon Investigative Journalist Award in 1992. He serves as a member of a number of international investigative journalism professional bodies including the Forum for African Investigative Reporters (FAIR). He is HumAngle's Francophone and Central Africa editor.

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