WWF Congo condemns oil exploration licence for SOCO International in Virunga National Park
The Word Wildlife Fund (WWF) calls on the Congolese government to enforce laws that prohibit the oil exploitation in protected areas. René Ngongo, WWF coordinator in the DRC, denounced the license for the exploitation of oil in Virunga National Park, which was awarded to the British company SOCO International.
"Soco received government permits to explore in block 5, which covers about 85% of the Virunga National Park. This is a license that is [issued] by the relevant authorities, " said Ngongo. "The permit contradicts not only the Congolese laws, but also the commitments of the DRC with the international community."
WWF "urged the Congolese government to take into account the laws of the DRC", especially on the conservation of nature, which prohibits activities harmful to the environment.
Only two weeks ago, continued Ngongo, "the World Heritage Committee of UNESCO had to reiterate its request to the Congolese government to cancel all oil exploration permits in Virunga National Park."
The presidential order, granting exploration and production of oil in block 5 of the Albertine Rift in the eastern DRC, to the company SOCO International was signed by the Head of State in June 2010.
Since Presidential Order was issues, the exploration and exploitation of oil in the Virunga National Park continued, but with resistance of the Congolese Institute for the Conservation of Nature (ICCN), local politicians and environmental NGOs .
"Oil exploration in Virunga National Park conflicts with the Forest Act which prohibits human activity in a protected area," said a Human Rights activist, fearing that such activities will be particularly polluting Lake Edward, which is part of the park.