Decision : CONF 202 IV.A.13
Rwenzori Mountains (Uganda)
The Bureau learned that the Centre had been informed by the IUCN Regional Councillor for Africa that high risks linked to security conditions in and around this site continue to prevent the implementation of meaningful conservation actions. The high Mountain altitudes are occupied by the rebel group, Allied Defence Forces (ADF) and the lower elevations of the Mountain are under the control of the Ugandan Government Forces (UPDF). The UPDF is believed to be combing the habitats in the lower elevations to clear them of explosives planted by the ADF. The report further mentioned that the rebel group ADF recently descended from the Rwenzori Mountain National Park and killed one Park Ranger and other persons in the Queen Elizabeth National Park, a site adjacent to the World Heritage site that has been declared a Biosphere Reserve. The IUCN Regional Councillor observed that it will be some time before peace and stability in and around this World Heritage site can be hoped for.
The Bureau noted that the Park Headquarters continue to be located in the town of Kasese, outside of the Park, due to security considerations. Thirty rangers are in Ibanda, the Park Headquarters, where they try to co-operate with UPDF and other personnel to establish and maintain security. The Ugandan Wildlife Authority has reported to IUCN that it commenced rehabilitation work on tourist tracks in March 2000. However, there are insufficient resources and financial support for such rehabilitation work as well as for surveillance, monitoring, training, communications, personnel and other essential activities.
The Delegate of Zimbabwe made the observation that the situation in this site, related to rebel activity and security risks, was similar to the World Heritage sites in Danger in eastern DRC. Hence, the Delegate requested that the Centre, in co-operation with IUCN and others, attempt to initiate support programmes for this site similar to those developed for the sites in the DRC. He also mentioned the possibility to send a mission to the site.
A representative of IUCN, responding to the question posed by the Delegate of Zimbabwe, noted that information from some of its members in the country indicated that equipment purchased as part of a World Heritage-financed project in the past may not have reached the site. The Bureau expressed its concern regarding the possibility of inappropriate use of the resources of the World Heritage Fund and requested the Centre to contact the concerned authorities in the State Party to verify the status of the equipment purchased as part of the project under consideration and submit a report to the twenty-fourth session of the Committee.
The Bureau recommended that the Committee retain this site in the List of World Heritage in Danger. The Bureau suggested that the Centre and IUCN explore possibilities to raise international awareness for the conservation of this site. Furthermore, the Bureau recommended that the Centre co-operate with the State Party and concerned UN units in the region to study ways and means, including the development of an international financial assistance package financed by appropriate donors, to support staff responsible for the protection of the site and minimise threats posed by militant and armed groups occupying the site.