Decision : CONF 204 IV.B.19
Democratic Republic of the Congo
a) Okapi Faunal Reserve
The Bureau was deeply concerned to learn that the armed conflict which spread, during early 1997, to the whole of the region has led to the looting of all facilities and killing of several elephants in this site, inscribed on the World Heritage List in Mexico (December, 1996). Most of the expatriate and research staff have fled the Park and those remaining in the site receive only minimum salaries. There are reports of gold mining within the Park and the new Government's policy with regard to respecting the boundaries of the World Heritage area remain unclear.
b) Kahuzi Biega National Park
The Bureau noted with grave concern that portions of this Park had been deforested and considerable hunting of wildlife had been reported. Park facilities have been looted and destroyed and most of the Park staff have left the area. The Park may also be serving as a hide-out for militant groups and conflicts between tribal populations in the area have also been reported. Although UNHCR and GTZ (Germany) are considering to provide support for the Park projects cannot be started until the security situation in the area returns to normal.
The Bureau expressed its serious concerns regarding the integrity of Okapi Faunal Reserve and the Kahuzi Biega National Park and recommended that the Committee, at its next session, include these two sites in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Bureau recalled its recommendation of a high level mission to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, made with regard to the two sites in this State Party already recognized as World Heritage Sites in Danger (i.e. Garamba and Virunga National Parks) and suggested that such a mission include discussions on the state of conservation of Okapi Faunal Reserve and the Kahuzi Biega National Park as well with a view to initiating projects for their rehabilitation.