UNESCO emergency response to deadly attack in W-Arly-Pendjari Complex
On 8 and 10 February 2022, attacks involving improvised explosive devices resulted in the death of four rangers, two drivers, one instructor and one soldier, with 12 other individuals hospitalised with critical injuries in the W National Park in Benin, one of the components of the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex (Benin, Burkina Faso and Niger) inscribed on the World Heritage List.
The UNESCO Rapid Response Facility (RRF), an emergency fund established by the UNESCO World Heritage Centre and Fauna & Flora International (FFI), has responded swiftly to provide financial support to assist victims and support the continuity of conservation actions
Armed attacks against staff on duty have increased in recent years in the W-Arly-Pendjari Complex. This elevated security risk presents a threat to rangers and the important biodiversity they protect. The UNESCO Rapid Response Facility has therefore provided an emergency grant of US$ 40,000 to African Parks Network, which manages the Park in partnership with the Beninese government, to provide medical, psychological and emergency financial support to bereaved families and the injured staff. A specialist in de-mining will be hired to provide ranger training in removal of explosive devices, which represent a new threat in the Park.
This attack demonstrates the very serious threats those on the front-line of protecting our world's outstanding biodiversity can face. As well as providing much-needed support to those directly impacted by this attack, the RRF funds will allow for an increase in capacity in mine removal at the site, to help address this security threat in the longer term, and to protect both communities and biodiversity in this valuable landscape.
The W-Arly-Pendjari Complex was inscribed on the World Heritage List in 2017 for its crucial role in maintaining biodiversity, with the area supporting 85% of the remaining savanna elephants in West Africa, the only viable population of lions in the region and one of the few populations of cheetah in West Africa. This is also a critical ecosystem for many other West African mammals, including the leopard, wild dog, Topi antelope and African manatee.