Virunga still embattled; Soco to blame? Media round-up

Friday, 27 March, 2015

Ambiguous news from Virunga, the embattled National Park in DRC that we’ve covered before

The DRC government is now in discussions with UNESCO, of all people, regarding redrafting of the Virunga National Park boundaries in order to go after what lies beneath. 300 mountain gorillas, along with at least an equivalent number of NGOs, going by the force of the campaign to protect it—which also encompasses a documentary,Virunga, which was nominated for an Oscar.
A BBC Africa Radio piece available to listen to here has uncovered new independent evidence of intimidation of oil opponents and payments to soldiers linked to an oil project in Virunga run by London-listed oil company Soco International. Sock, as is customary in these circumstances, deny the allegations.
As Global Witness put it: “If we fail to protect Virunga National Park it will set a precedent for other protected areas threatened by extractive industry multinationals to also be exploited.”
Soco has now instructed heavyweight London law firm Clifford Chance to carry out an independent review into the allegations of wrongdoing. Good, we suppose. But CSR21 stands behind the NGOs in asking that they commit to making the scope of the investigation public and publishing the results. Transparency is all.

A list of some of the recent coverage all this has accreted:

BBC News
Africa review
BBC Africa Radio
The Guardian