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UNESCO urges Kabila and MONUC to protect World Heritage DRC

Director-General requests an extension of mandate MONUC to include protection of exceptional nature
10 May 2007

Rangers in the DRCThe Director-General of UNESCO, Ko?chiro Matsuura, asks for systematic measures to stop the poaching and killing of endangered animals in the five World Heritage sites of the DRC. He made this request in letters to Joseph Kabila, President of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) and to Jean-Marie Guehenno, the United Nations Under-Secretary-General for Peacekeeping Operations.

This initiative follows reports that several hundred hippopotami and at least two mountain gorillas have been killed in recent months in the Virunga National Park. DRC's World Heritage sites are of exceptional importance to the preservation of biodiversity as they are home to some of the world's rarest and most remarkable species, including the bonobo, mountain gorilla, white rhino and okapi.

Mr Matsuura notes that the presence of armed groups on these sites, including Mai Mai and Rwandan rebels, presents a threat to the parks. Rangers of the Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation (ICCN) and their families have been targeted by militias, resulting in loss of property, injuries and even death.

In his letters, on 25 April 2007, the Director-General requests that the mandate of the UN Mission in the DRC (MONUC) be extended to include the protection of DRC's World Heritage sites and other protected areas.

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