Decision : CONF 202 IV.7
Virunga National Park (Zaire)
The Bureau recalled that Virunga National Park was included on the List of World Heritage in Danger in December 1994, due to the tragic events in Rwanda and the subsequent massive influx of refugees from that country. Virunga National Park, situated on the border between Rwanda and Uganda, has been destabilized by the uncontrolled arrival of refugees, causing deforestation and poaching within its boundaries.
The Centre wrote to the authorities requesting that the World Heritage Committee be informed about any action to be undertaken to stop poaching operations within the site and to improve control in the Park. The Centre and IUCN are in contact with several NGOs working in the area and a mission was organized together with WWF to the site in order to evaluate its state of conservation and to strengthen cooperation between the different international assistance agencies working to protect the site. The mission was carried out from 15 to 30 April 1996 and the report indicates serious threats to the site, including impacts due to the location of refugee camps involving more than 700,000 persons in the vicinity of the Park (deforestation, poaching etc.). The report indicates detailed recommendations for an urgent safeguarding plan, collaboration between different organizations (WWF, GTZ, UNHCR, DNDP, GEF and UNESCO) as well as specific recommendations for international assistance requests to be submitted by the authorities.
Taking into account the presence of thousands of refugees, the Bureau expressed its concern about the continuing degradation of the Park and recommended to the Committee to retain the site on the List of World Heritage in Danger.