Resolution of Security Incident in Virunga National Park

13th May 2018, North Kivu, Eastern DRC

Earlier today Virunga National Park confirmed the death of Ranger Rachel Masika Baraka in an attack on a Park vehicle on the morning of Friday 11 May. During the incident, two British nationals and a Congolese driver were captured by armed assailants and taken hostage.

We can now confirm the release and safe return of passengers and driver who are currently receiving support and medical attention.

Congolese authorities and senior park staff are working closely with the UK Foreign and Commonwealth Office for the repatriation of the British nationals. We ask that the privacy of all those affected by this incident is respected at this sensitive time.

The Congolese Institute for Nature Conservation Director General, Cosma Wilungula said: “We would like to thank our brave team for ensuring the swift resolution of this incident, and the safe return of the two British nationals.”

Park Director, Emmanuel de Merode said: “We are deeply saddened by the death of Virunga National Park Ranger Baraka, whose life was tragically cut short whilst protecting the passengers and driver. We wish to extend our deepest condolences to her family and our sincerest gratitude for her bravery and service to Congo. We’d also like to thank the UK authorities for their support with this issue”

We ask that all enquiries are directed to press@virunga.org or Whatsapp +447946582641

ENDS

Notes to Editor:

The Virunga National Park (Parc National des Virunga), in the eastern Democratic Republic of the Congo, is 7,800-square-kilometres (3,000 sq mi) stretching from the Virunga Mountains in the South, to the Rwenzori Mountains in the North, bordering Volcanoes National Park in Rwanda and Rwenzori Mountains National Park and Queen Elizabeth National Park in Uganda.

The park was established in 1925 as Africa’s first national park and is a UNESCO-designated World Heritage Site since 1979. In recent years poaching and the Congo Civil War have seriously damaged its wildlife population. The park is managed by the Congolese National Park Authorities, the Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) and its partner the Virunga Foundation.

The Institut Congolais pour la Conservation de la Nature (ICCN) is a Congolese governmental partner tasked with the protection and conservation of the Virunga National Park and Kahuzi-Biega National Park, both UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the Democratic Republic of Congo. Members of the ICCN are charged with the overall protection of the parks and the endangered Mountain Gorilla.

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