Twenty-one environmental guards were killed in twelve months in the Virunga National Park, a dangerous area in the east of the Democratic Republic of the Congo where the Italian ambassador in Kinshasa was killed in an attack, he said. we learned, Tuesday March 2, from the management of the park.
“We have lost 21 eco-guards in the last twelve months”, lamented Emmanuel de Merode, director of the park, adding that “44 attacks against the civilian population passing through the park have been launched” inside this protected natural and tourist gem for the past two years.
“During the death of the Italian Ambassador Luca Attanasio, our ecoguards managed to counter the progress of the attackers, but unfortunately, there were deaths of men”, regretted Mr. Demerode, refusing to affirm “Whether the attack was targeted or not”.
On the section of national road number 2 which runs along the Virunga park, infested with armed groups, eco-guards ensure the safety of vehicles passing there with a frequency of “120 convoys per month”, said Demerode.
“Lack of earnings of a billion dollars
“The violence created by armed groups in Virunga National Park is intended to (make) money and weaken the state. The challenges facing the Virunga Park, including insecurity and others, are causing a shortfall ” reaching $ 1 billion per year, he estimated.
At the end of April, an attack targeting eco-guards attributed to the Rwandan Hutu rebels of the Democratic Liberation Forces of Rwanda (FDLR), had caused the death of twelve rangers.
Mountain gorilla sanctuary inaugurated in 1925, with an area of 7,769 km2, the Virunga, the oldest park in Africa, cover part of the province of North Kivu (nearly 60,000 km2).2), especially along the border with Rwanda and Uganda.
Eastern DRC has been destabilized for nearly three decades by the presence of dozens of local and foreign armed groups.
In a recent report, the Kivu Security Barometer (KST), made up of experts, identified at least “122 armed groups” active in four eastern provinces (Ituri, North Kivu, South Kivu and Tanganyika).