WEF necessary to bring attention to conflict in Virunga


This is according to Belgian Prince Emmanuel de Merode, director of the Virunga National Park.

“We have to remember that we live more and more in a world that’s interlinked, and we’re also living in a world that’s become increasingly violent,” he told CNBC Africa at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos.

“It becomes very important now to put the effort into understanding the root cause of that violence and often it’s related to resource extraction.”

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De Merode also stated that he is saddened by the fact that tragedies that happen in Africa often go unnoticed.

“The world’s attention is always drawn to western capitals when tragedies happen there. The horrors that happen, in Africa particularly, are so often forgotten,” he said.

He added that it is imperative to attend forums such as WEF, to bring international attention to these issues.

“Virunga has been pulled into this terrible war that’s affecting eastern Congo that has led to the death of over six million Congolese and we’re right at the center of that,” de Merode said.  

“Every war since 1996 has started either within the national park or immediately around it so we’re drawn into one of the biggest regional conflicts in Africa.”

De Merode, who has been in Virunga since 1993, said that seeing the Congolese rangers put their lives on the line to protect the park and the animals has inspired him to keep fighting.

“We’re also affected by the economic realities. One of the great confrontations that we’re facing at the moment is the issue of illegal oil in the national park and in this case it’s with a British company,” he explained.

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“It’s something that the law enforcement authorities and we, as a national park, have to confront. It’s extremely difficult – we can’t do it on our own.”

A documentary on the park, titled ‘Virunga’, tells the story of the survival of the world’s last existing mountain gorilla population in the midst of poachers, rebels and oil explorers.