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Committee Decisions

CONF 202 21A.2

World Heritage sites of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)

The World Heritage Committee,

1. Regrets the widespread damage caused by the volcanic eruption in January 2002 and requests the Director-General to transmit its sympathies and solidarity to the people of Goma through appropriate UN and other channels;

2. Requests the Director-General to consult with the UN authorities and other appropriate partners to put in place natural-disaster-prevention and risk-assessment systems to protect lives and minimize damage to property in the event of future eruptions;

3. Notes the efforts of the UNESCO/DRC/United Nations Foundation (UNF) Project to support the conservation of all five World Heritage sites of DRC and requests that a detailed progress report be submitted for examination by the Committee at its 27th session in June/July 2003;

4. Takes note of the fact that the state of conservation of Garamba, Kahuzi Biega and Salonga National Parks and the Okapi Faunal Reserve remain unchanged from conditions reported to the 25th session of the Committee;

5. Expresses its serious concerns over the illegal encroachments and settlements in Kiolirwe and Kararuma in the Virunga National Park, some of them being attributed to people coming from across the border with Rwanda, and requests the Centre to urgently find ways and means to alert the authorities in Goma and in Rwanda of the need to fully respect the integrity of the Virunga National Park;

6. Calls for urgent and high-level diplomatic initiatives to check illegal encroachments and settlements threatening the Virunga National Park and to ensure that all authorities in Eastern DRC and Rwanda respect the international significance and neutrality of World Heritage sites and assist site staff and other conservation authorities to effectively protect those sites;

7. Welcomes the forthcoming visit of the Director-General to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda in early 2003 and requests the Director-General to take all possible steps to promote transborder co-operation between the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda for the conservation of Virunga National Park and other World Heritage sites in the Great Lakes Region of Africa;

8. Recommends that the Centre concentrate its efforts to strengthen conservation in areas in and around the World Heritage sites of the DRC that are returning to normality as on-going UN peace-building efforts in the country take root;

9. Invites its Chairperson and the Director-General to take all other possible diplomatic measures, e.g. writing to the UN Secretary General, to Heads of States and important personalities in other concerned States Parties etc., to build international solidarity to promote peace and other necessary conditions for effective World Heritage conservation in Eastern DRC;

10. Retains the five National Parks: Virunga, Garamba, Kahuzi Biega and Salonga and the Okapi Faunal Reserve on the List of World Heritage in Danger.