Year of inscription on the World Heritage List
Garamba National Park: 1980
Garamba National Park: (vii)(x)
Previous Committee Decisions:
See page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/475
See page http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/475
Year(s) of inscription on the List of World Heritage in Danger
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger The Garamba National Park was inscribed again on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996 for the following reasons: a) Increased poaching; b) Pressure linked to the civil war, thereby threatening the flagship species of the property. Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger The Garamba National Park was listed for the first time on the List of World Heritage in Danger between 1984 and 1992 due to a serious decline in the population of white rhinos. With the success of the measures taken by the World Heritage Committee, IUCN, WWF, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the national authorities, the rhino population has increased from an alarming total of five specimens to thirty-five animals and the site was removed from the List of World Heritage in danger at the sixteenth session of the Committee in 1992.
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
The Garamba National Park was inscribed again on the List of World Heritage in Danger in 1996 for the following reasons:
a) Increased poaching;
b) Pressure linked to the civil war, thereby threatening the flagship species of the property.1984 -1992
Threats for which the property was inscribed on the List of World Heritage in Danger
The Garamba National Park was listed for the first time on the List of World Heritage in Danger between 1984 and 1992 due to a serious decline in the population of white rhinos. With the success of the measures taken by the World Heritage Committee, IUCN, WWF, the Frankfurt Zoological Society and the national authorities, the rhino population has increased from an alarming total of five specimens to thirty-five animals and the site was removed from the List of World Heritage in danger at the sixteenth session of the Committee in 1992.
Desired state of conservation for the removal of the property from the List of World Heritage in Danger
Corrective measures identified
Requests Approved: 0
Total Amount Approved: 248,270USD
|2000||Emergency assistance to World Natural Heritage of the democratic Republic of the Congo||5,400 USD|
|1999||Support to Resident Staff of Garamba, Virunga, Kahuzi Biega National Parks and Okapi Faunal Reserve - the four World Heritage sites in Danger in the Democratic Republic of the Congo||30,000 USD|
|1994||Purchase of equipment for Garamba National Park (COMPLEMENT TO IA 642)||10,000 USD|
|1993||Purchase of equipment for Garamba National Park||10,000 USD|
|1992||Review of the state of conservation of World Heritage sites in Zaire and preparation of proposals for elaborating management plans for them||3,750 USD|
|1991||Purchase and shipment of 3 all-terrain motorcycles for patrolling teams in Garamba National Park||15,000 USD|
|1988||Purchase of 2 vehicles to continue the activities of the WWF/Frankfurt Zoological Society/World Heritage consortium to combat poaching at Garamba National Park||50,000 USD|
|1986||Purchase of equipment for the project to protect the rhinoceros population in Garamba National Park||20,000 USD|
|1985||Equipment for the project to protect the rhinoceros population in Garamba National Park||20,000 USD|
|1985||Contribution to the project for to rescue the white rhinoceros, Garamba National Park||25,000 USD|
|1983||Equipment for rescue programme for white rhino and elephants in Garamba National Park||40,000 USD|
|1980||Equipment for Garamba National Park||19,120 USD|
UNESCO Extra-budgetary Funds
Previous monitoring missions
Factors affecting the property identified in previous reports
Current conservation issues
At its twenty-fourth ordinary session (June 26 - July 1, 2000, Paris), the Bureau reviewed a summary report of an intermediary mission to DRC, including to the war-impacted eastern parts of the country, and to the capital cities of neighbouring Rwanda and Uganda, both of which are implicated in the war in eastern DRC, and made four specific recommendations for action (see pages 7-8 of the document WHC-2000/CONF.204/4). In response, the Centre has implemented the following measures:
(1) The Director of the Centre wrote to the Chief of the UNOMC formally transmitting the memorandum submitted to the Chief of UNOMC by the UNESCO World Heritage mission team. The Office of the Chief of UNOMC in New York, via a letter dated 26 September 2000, has assured the Director of the Centre that within the constraints of its mandate and available resources, UNOMC will assist UNESCO, ICCN and their partners to conserve the World Heritage sites in the DRC. Such assistance could be in the form of transport of personnel and equipment and materials destined for the sites. However, the Chief of UNOMC has observed that in the long-term, conservation of the five World Heritage sites in the DRC will essentially depend on the progress achieved to implement the Lusaka Cease-fire Agreement and other pertinent Security Council resolutions concerning the DRC;
(2) The Centre has recruited a consultant, from 10 September 2000 for a period of 3 months, for setting up a co-ordination unit for the execution of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project in Nairobi, Kenya. A co-ordinator for the project is expected to be recruited before the end of 2000. On the basis of the recommendations of ICCN, Kinshasa, and other project partners, namely WWF, IRF, GTZ-Germany, GIC and WCS, the Chief of the Garamba National Park, currently working with WWF-Nairobi, will serve as the "ICCN Homologue" in the co-ordination unit. The contract with the "ICCN Homologue" is being finalised and his services to the project co-ordination unit will begin in October 2000;
(3) The Centre is currently in the process of negotiating a meeting of technical personnel representing the three different governance regimes within the territory of the DRC to be convened from 30 October to 1 November in Nairobi, Kenya. The consultant and the "ICCN Homologue" referred to in (1) and (2) above, and the leader of the two-person team that undertook the intermediary mission to DRC, Rwanda and Uganda from 8 May to 11 June, will facilitate the organisation and conduct of that meeting; and
(4) The possible composition and timing of the proposed high-level mission to the DRC, Rwanda and Uganda is likely to be one of the subjects of discussions during a luncheon meeting between the Director-General of UNESCO and the Executive Director of UNEP, scheduled for 28 September 2000. The meeting participants have been briefed of the desirability of UNESCO and UNEP Heads leading such a high-level mission to the capitals of the three countries implicated in the war in eastern DRC to meet with the Heads of States and other important personalities and draw their attention to the need to respect international law and strengthen conservation of the all World Heritage sites in the area, and particularly those in eastern DRC.
As suggested by the Delegate of Zimbabwe at the twenty-fourth session of the Bureau, the Centre has given priority to initiate, under the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project, those actions that directly benefit the sites. Contracts with project partners for payment of salaries, performance related bonuses and medical and food rations to site staff are nearing finalisation and implementation is expected to commence in October 2000. In this regard, the benefits to each site for the first year of project execution are as follows:
· 348 persons in Virunga will receive a total sum of US$ 175,392;
· 236 persons in Garamba will receive a sum of US$ 118,944;
· 83 persons in Kahuzi Biega will be paid a total sum of US$ 41,832;
· 56 persons will be paid a total sum of US$ 28,224; and
· 150 persons from Salonga will be paid a sum of US$ 75,600.
These sums for all five sites were estimated on the basis of a standardized rate of US$ 42/month/person, comprising a basic salary of US$ 30/guard and US$ 26/labourer and additional amounts of US$ 12/guard and US$ 16/labourer to cover performance related bonuses and medical and food rations. The project partners who will be responsible for transfer of payments from UNESCO to the site staff are: WWF Office for Eastern Africa in Nairobi, Kenya for Virunga; IRF Office in Nairobi, Kenya for Garamba; Gilman International Conservation for Okapi; and GTZ-Germany projects responsible for Kahuzi Biega and Salonga. The UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project has set aside funds for the continuation of such payments to site-staff over the next three years; i.e. until October 2004. At the same time, project partners continue to support financing the positions of some of the other senior staff, as they have done in the past, in the respective sites for which they have assumed responsibilities.
The US$ 21,000 of the US$ 48,000 approved as emergency assistance by the Chairperson in April 2000, and earmarked for the payment of pensions for 70 persons at the rate of US$ 300 per person employed in the Virunga National Park has been decentralised to the UNESCO Office in Nairobi, Kenya for execution in co-operation with the WWF Eastern Africa Programme Office in Nairobi.
The Committee may wish to recall the fact that UNF and UNFIP approved, in November 1999, a sum of US$ 2,895,912 of the total cost of US$ 4,180,600 and urged the Centre and its partners to raise the additional funds from other sources. The Centre, in co-operation with its partners including ICCN, Kinshasa, elaborated a project to support local communities resident in and around the five World Heritage sites in Danger in the DRC. The 4-year project estimated to cost a sum of US$ 500,000 has attracted the interest of the Belgium Government’s Cabinet for Development Co-operation. The UNESCO Bureau for Extrabudgetary Resources is currently in the process of finalising negotiations. The Centre and the Division of Ecological Sciences of UNESCO and the project partners are also in contact with other donors such as the European Union to raise the remaining funds to arrive at the total estimated cost of US$ 4,180,600 in order to implement the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project in its totality.
In Kahuzi-Biega, guard training sessions in monitoring and a refresher course in paramilitary techniques, with the objective of increasing the guard surveillance capacity to 10% of the National Park area that is regularly accessible have been conducted. Two patrol posts were reoccupied by staff in May 2000 but had to be evacuated a month later as the posts were attacked by armed gangs on two occasions causing the guards to retreat. Nevertheless, guards continue to patrol accessible areas on a regular basis. During August/September 2000, a team comprising Park staff, local authorities and representatives of several government services carried out work on marking the Park’s borders in the corridor area linking the highland and lowland sectors. Some 50 soldiers accompanied the team. On 5September the team’s camp was attacked by a large force of rebels from the Liberation Army of Rwanda. eleven people were killed; many were injured including some who were seriously wounded. None of the staff from the Park or local offices of the ICCN were seriously injured. five people were taken hostage but were later released unharmed. However, the group’s equipment was taken by the rebels and has not been returned.
In mid-June 2000, some security measures were put in place and allowed a team to start inventory work in the highland sector of the Park in order to obtain a better view of the numbers of gorillas and elephants remaining in the area. It will enhance the capacities of the Park staff since the newly constituted Park monitoring team is taking part in the work. When the work is finished, the inventory project will hand over most of the equipment used to the Park team, in order for it to continue the monitoring programme. The scientific organization and a large part of the budget for this inventory are being provided by the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), the Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund (DFGF) and Born Free. The GTZ-Germany project for Kahuzi Biega has provided vehicles, tents, radios and other equipment.
In Salonga, a report on a 1998-survey on bonobos and other large mammals has been received by IUCN. The survey data showed that bonobo, bongo, black mangabey, and leopard were present at that time in reasonable numbers in the northern part of the Park. Some elephants were also present, although in much reduced numbers. However, it is not clear how the unrest in the DRC has affected the bonobo population and other large mammals. This factor and the significance of the Park for bonobo conservation call for further, detailed evaluations. The report concludes that poaching within the Park is increasing due to human encroachment.
In the case of Okapi Faunal Reserve as well as the Garamba National Park, partners concerned with the protection of the site, namely the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) in Okapi and the International Rhino Foundation (IRF) in Garamba, respectively, have detected increased poaching of elephants which appear to be supported by certain sections of the armed forces of Uganda. Both WCS and IRF have written to the Honourable Minister of State, Foreign Affairs and Regional Co-operation of Uganda requesting his intervention to investigate the matter and urging him to ensure that the Ugandan forces do not in any way aid elephant poachers and wherever possible they support and strengthen local officials working to conserve World Heritage sites in eastern DRC. WCS and IRF have transmitted copies of their letters to the Honourable Minister of Uganda to the Centre for transmission to the attention of the Permanent Delegate for Uganda in UNESCO for verification and necessary action.
In Virunga, the situation remains unchanged from that reported at the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau in June/July 2000.
The Director General of ICCN, Kinshasa, via his letters of 29 August and 15 September 2000 has acknowledged receipt of the observations, conclusions and recommendations of the twenty-fourth ordinary session of the Bureau and thanked the Bureau for its appreciation of the work of the site staff and continuing support for the conservation of the five sites.
Decision Adopted: 24BUR IV.A.6
The Bureau was informed that, as requested by the Committee at its last session in Morocco (November – December 1999), the Director-General of UNESCO had written to the Heads of States of the DRC and of the neighbouring states implicated in the war in Eastern DRC, namely Rwanda, Sudan and Uganda, drawing their attention to the need to respect the international law protecting the five World Heritage sites in the DRC and soliciting their support to create an environment enabling resident site staff to effectively protect the sites. The Minister for the Environment of the Government of the DRC had responded to this letter affirming his Government’s commitment to the conservation of the five sites. The Bureau was informed that the Permanent Delegate of Sudan to UNESCO, via a letter dated 29 April 2000, had informed the Director-General that his country is not party to the war in Eastern DRC. The letters sent to the Rwandan and Ugandan authorities have not yet elicited a response from authorities concerned.
In his letters addressed to the Heads of States mentioned above, the Director-General had informed them of the imminent launch of the UN Foundation (UNF) financed project for the conservation of biodiversity in the five World Heritage sites in the DRC. The project will pay salaries and allowances to site staff, meet their essential equipment and training needs, undertake monitoring activities to update knowledge on the state of conservation of key species in the five sites and support local community activities benefiting World Heritage site conservation. Furthermore, the Director-General has written to the UN Secretary General, the Director General of FAO and the Paris-based Ambassadors of all States Parties to the Convention requesting their support to influence the leaders of the DRC and the nearby States implicated in the war in Eastern DRC, calling upon the need to provide a safe working environment for site staff and to strengthen conservation of the five World Heritage sites. The Director General of FAO has acknowledged the letter of the Director-General of UNESCO and informed that his organisation was studying the question of co-operation with UNESCO in the implementation of the UNF project.
The Bureau was pleased to note that the final version of the document of the UNF financed project for biodiversity conservation in the World Heritage sites in the DRC, was signed by the Government of the DRC, UNESCO and UNFIP on 5 May 2000 during a ceremony held at UNESCO, Paris, and attended by the Minister of Environment of the DRC. Subsequently, UNFIP has transferred the first year's funds of about US$ 959,000 to UNESCO on 7 June 2000. The Bureau was informed that the Centre and the Division of Ecological Sciences of UNESCO participated at a meeting of the Core-Group, that co-ordinates the execution of this project and comprises UNESCO, UNF/UNFIP, ICCN and its partners and representatives from all five sites, held in Naivasha, Kenya from 6 to 9 June 2000. The Representative of the IUCN Central African Regional Office also attended the meeting. At the Core-Group meeting, UNESCO and the executing partners, namely GTZ (Germany), IRF, GIC, WWF and WCS discussed administrative and co-ordination arrangements that will enable an early launch as well as effective execution of the first year of activities of the 4-year project. Activities financed by the UNF project will begin in July 2000.
In accordance with another recommendation made by the twenty-third session of the Committee in Morocco (November-December 1999), the Chairperson had approved, in April 2000, a sum of US$ 48,000 as emergency assistance in support of the following actions: (a) organisation of an intermediary mission to the DRC and neighbouring States (US$ 27,000); and (b) providing pension benefits to staff due to retire from services in the Central and Northern sectors of the Virunga National Park (US$21,000). The intermediary mission was fielded from 8 May to 11 June 2000 and was carried out by a two-person team comprising Drs. Jean-Pierre d‘Huart (Belgium) and Terese B. Hart (USA). The Bureau reviewed a summary report of the mission based on a brief presentation made by Dr. Jean Pierre d‘Huart and the document WHC-2000/CONF.202/INF.14 and noted the following conclusions of the mission:
The Bureau learned that the remaining US$ 21,000 of the US$ 48,000 approved by the Chairperson as emergency assistance will be used for paying 70 staff members, at the rate of US$ 300 per person, who are due to retire from services in the Central and Northern sectors of the Virunga National Park. Similar retirement benefits to staff in the Southern sector of Virunga National Park and in the other four sites will be provided by ICCN‘s partners, namely GTZ-Germany, WWF, IRF, WCS and GIC. These partners have been paying allowances and salaries to site staff during the last three to four years when ICCN has been unable to meet such demands due to the deteriorating economic situation of the country. The UNF grant of US$ 2,895,912 will in part be used for meeting salaries of site staff over the next four years and hence all the partners of ICCN will save considerable amounts of expenditure. These savings will be used by the partners to settle the problem of paying retirement benefits to staff whose departure from regular services has been long overdue. This step will not only open up new employment opportunities for youth in areas near all of the five sites; it will facilitate the re-integration of the retiring staff into local communities and continue to support the conservation of the five sites. Conscious efforts to re-integrate the retiring staff into local community life are considered an important management task; otherwise, the knowledge and skills of these retiring officers may easily be co-opted by other groups opposed to the conservation interests of the sites.
During the Core-Group meeting of the UNF Project held in Naivasha, Kenya, from 6 to 9 June 2000, it became clear that several other donors were willing to study the feasibility to provide support to consolidate the UNF project. The Bureau recalled the information reported at the last session of the Committee (Marrakesh, 1999) that while UNF has provided a grant of US$ 2,895,912, the total cost of the 4-year project was estimated at US$ 4,180,600. Hence, additional support, currently being discussed with the European Union, the Cabinet of Development Co-operation of Belgium and the GTZ, Germany, could assist in the raising of the additional amount of US$ 1,284,666 needed and considerably increase the chances of success of the UNF Project.
Provision of direct support to site staff is helping to build staff morale in Garamba National Park where the impact of increased patrolling and surveillance has been monitored. The US$ 30,000 approved by the twenty-third ordinary session of the Bureau in July 1999 for paying motivational allowances for staff in Garamba National Park has partly contributed to the staff spending a total number of 8,788 guard-days, or 796 patrol-days, in 1999. This resulted in 51 contacts with poachers and the recovery of 9 automatic weapons, 226 rounds of ammunition, 4 grenades and numerous other items illegally possessed by the poachers. IUCN has reported that contacts between staff on patrol and armed groups in Garamba have steadily fallen since the last quarter of 1998. An aerial census of the northern white rhinoceros, unique to this site, was carried out by the IRF (International Rhino Foundation) between 14 and 21 April 2000; results showed that there are at least 24 rhinos in the area and there may be as many as 31 individuals in the Park. This number compares well with the pre-war population of about 35 individuals. The aerial census also counted 7 new-born calves and hence the prospects for the continued survival of this unique sub-species of the African rhino appears to be encouraging at present, despite the on-going war in this region.
Although signs of improvements in staff morale are evident, ability of site staff to access all parts in many sites remain severely restricted as different warring and armed factions occupy selected sections of such sites. In Kahuzi Biega National Park, staff have access to only about 5-10% of the total area of the Park. In these accessible parts, 70 gorillas and traces of 5 elephants have been recorded. In 1996, the census data showed the presence of 258 gorillas and 350 elephants in the whole of the Kahuzi Biega National Park. There are widespread concerns that elephant populations in the Park may have been severly poached and the loss of elephants may have indirect ecological consequences for the gorillas; elephants are thought to be responsible for opening up forests and areas of secondary-growth which are preferred feeding habitats of gorillas. Elephants may also play a role in the germination of certain plant species eaten by the gorilla. The ICCN-PARCID Project in Kahuzi Biega National Park regularly issues a newsletter that heightens awareness of the leaders and the public of the need to conserve flagship species such as the gorillas and the elephant in Kahuzi Biega. The Project also maintains an electronic mailing list for disseminating accurate information on the status of such flagship species and on the overall state of conservation and needs of the Kahuzi Biega National Park. These regular communications are beginning to have impacts on raising the interests of concerned conservation groups; for example the international Ape Alliance Group is launching an appeal to protect the gorillas of Kahuzi Biega National Park. In addition, regular communications also appear to have contributed to international pressure being brought upon one of the neighbouring country governments whose forces occupy the area; the movements of these forces into the Park area have considerably reduced, although the DRC rebel factions continue to occupy the Park.
The Bureau was concerned in particular about the cases of Okapi and Virunga where the mission team felt that the conditions were deteriorating more than in other sites. The separation of Virunga into a northern and southern sector, with each sector being controlled by different rebel groups under the influence of different foreign armies, is a major concern.
Salonga National Park, in the central parts of the DRC, and the only one of the five sites in the DRC still under the direct authority of the ICCN Office in Kinshasa, has also been experiencing increased poaching, particularly on the endemic bonobo chimpanzees. A centre for protecting orphaned chimpanzees is helping to protect these species. The war in the eastern parts of the DRC appears to have disrupted the flow of essential foods across the country and local people and armed factions appear to be turning increasingly towards wildlife as the main source of their protein supply. Salonga has also recorded significant increases in elephant poaching, a trend directly resulting from increased supply of arms and ammunition caused by the war in eastern DRC.
The Bureau expressed its satisfaction to note modest improvements in the conservation of Garamba but was deeply concerned with the continuing threats to the integrity of the other four sites. The Bureau recommended that the Centre, ICCN and its partners, IUCN and site staff do everything possible to ensure an early start and effective execution of the UNF-financed project. In addition, based on the findings of the two-person mission team, the Bureau made the following recommendations:
The Bureau noted that if the high-level mission could have the participation of the Directors- General of UNESCO and UNEP then it could have a major impact on the Heads of States and other decision-makers who would be met during the visit of the high-level mission.
The Delegate of Zimbabwe underlined the importance of co-ordination among the ICCN staff from the different parts of DRC and the need to ensure that the funds made available by the UNF are spent on activities directly benefiting sites rather than for administrative activities distant from the sites. The Delegate of Australia concurred with the observations of the Zimbabwe Delegate and said that recommendations of the Bureau on the state of conservation of sites in the DRC should be realistic and have a good chance of being executed without any major difficulties.
The Bureau recommended that the Committee retain all five sites of the DRC in the List of World Heritage in Danger. However, as suggested by IUCN, it commended the staff at the site for their commitment to their work, and thanked the UNF for its generous financial assistance. The Bureau also invited the States Parties to undertake bilateral co-operative actions.
Decision Adopted: 24COM VIII.6
VIII.6 World Heritage sites of the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
The Committee noted detailed information on the state of conservation of the five sites in the DRC, i.e. Virunga, Garamba and Kahuzi Biega and Salonga National Parks and the Okapi Wildlife Reserve, reported from pages 2 to 5 of the document WHC-2000/CONF.204/9. Furthermore, the Committee noted the following additional information reported by the Centre:
(1) In addition to the UNOMC, contacts have been established with members of a UN Panel conducting a Probe on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in DRC and located at the UN complex in Nairobi, Kenya. Information on the state of conservation of the five sites will be regularly transmitted to the UN Panel mentioned above for appropriate action;
(2) A Co-ordination Unit for the UNESCO/DRC/UNFUNFIP Project has been operational in Nairobi, Kenya since 10 September 2000, assisted by the services of a consultant and an "ICCN Homologue" seconded by ICCN, Kinshasa. Recruitment of a Project Co-ordinator had been delayed but is likely to finalized before the end of the first quarter of 2001;
(3) A meeting of technical personnel representing the three different governance regimes within the territory of the DRC was convened from 8 to 10 November 2000 in Nairobi, Kenya. The three technical personnel have signed a formal agreement of co-operation that will facilitate the monitoring of the state of conservation of the sites, execution of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project, information and material exchange between sites and the organization and conduct of joint activities involving staff from the five sites. Furthermore, the three authorities have also agreed to co-ordinate together movements and career development options for ICCN personnel, despite prevailing administrative and political barriers to such coordination;
(4) Following a meeting on 28 September 2000, the Director-General of UNESCO and the Executive Director of UNEP expressed an interest to lead a high-level mission to the capitals of the three countries (i.e. Kinshasa, Kigali and Kampala) implicated in the war in eastern DRC to meet with the Heads of States and other important personalities and draw their attention to the need to respect international law and strengthen conservation of the all World Heritage sites in the area, and particularly those in eastern DRC. The possibility of fielding such a mission will be further pursued by the Centre in co-operation with relevant partners of UNESCO under the framework of activities for executing the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project. The three technical authorities located in the three different regions of DRC (see point 3 above) have committed to facilitate such a high-level diplomatic mission to the fullest extent possible, if and when it is fielded.
IUCN underlined the significance and the timeliness of the financial support provided by the UN Foundation to support the work of site personnel and commended the dedication and commitment of the site staff to protect the sites.
The Committee noted with satisfaction that the Centre has established contracts with project partners for payment of salaries, performance related bonuses and medical and food rations to site staff in all of the five World Heritage sites and transfer of funds to benefit site staff are about to begin soon. The UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project has set aside funds for the continuation of such payments to site staff over a period of four years; i.e. until October 2004. The Committee also noted with appreciation the support of the Government of Belgium for a project focusing on providing support to local communities in and around the five sites to enable them to contribute towards their protection. The Government of Belgium is expected to provide a sum of US$ 500,000 for the four-year project that is expected to begin in early 2001.
The Centre, based on information received from partners of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP Project and a variety of other sources, informed the Committee that the state of conservation in Garamba and Virunga National Parks was relatively good. In Okapi, recent assistance from military authorities in the region had enabled staff of the Wildlife Reserve to disarm poaching gangs and improve conservation prospects. Salonga, though outside of the war zone and still accessible to ICCN-Kinshasa, is significantly threatened by illegal poaching. The situation in Kahuzi Biega is the most disconcerting, as staff do not have access to nearly 90% of the Park's surface area.
The Committee requested the Centre to further develop its relations and explore optimal ways of liaising with UNOMC and other appropriate bodies, like the UN Panel undertaking a Probe on Illegal Exploitation of Natural Resources in DRC, in order to promote the links between peace-building and World Heritage conservation in DRC and in neighbouring countries. The Committee recommended that the Centre, in co-operation with ICCN and other partners, ensure effective execution of the UNESCO/DRC/UNF-UNFIP project emphasizing and prioritizing project components that strengthen the work of site staff. The Committee urged the Centre to work with relevant administrative and support units of UNESCO to find ways and means to ensure rapid and effective transfer of funds via project partners to on-site beneficiaries who are attempting to protect World Heritage sites in a zone of high security risks. The Committee thanked and welcomed the interest of the Government of Belgium to support a project that would enable local communities to work with site staff to support conservation of the five sites, and urged UNESCO and the Centre to expedite finalisation of negotiations with Belgium to enable early transfer of assistance to local communities resident near the five sites. The Committee decided that all five sites be retained in the List of World Heritage in Danger.