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Joint Statement on inter-ethnic clashes near DRC’s Salonga National Park

The civil society organizations, Action d'aide sanitaire pour le développement (AASD), Action pour la promotion des peuples et Espèces Menacés (APEM), Réseau des Populations Autochtones et Locales pour la Gestion Durable des Ecosystèmes Forestiers de la RDC (REPALEF) and WWF express their deepest concern after learning of recent inter-ethnic clashes between Nkundo (Bantu) and Batwa (Indigenous peoples) communities in the Bianga sector, Monkoto territory in Tshuapa province, outside Salonga National Park in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC).

The violence is a stark reminder of the ethnic discrimination, prejudices and tensions that persist today despite commitments made by the Congolese state and national and international laws and obligations on human rights as well as indigenous rights more specifically. 

We condemn the violence, which highlights the deep social fault lines that continue to exist between the communities living in and around Salonga National Park. The clashes are the worst inter-tribal violence reported in the area in decades and have left an estimated 50 Batwa people dead and more than 100 injured. Houses, schools and churches have been destroyed and/or looted along with a health centre that WWF helped set up for the Batwa communities in the village of Sambwankoy last year. 


We call on the DRC government to (1) urgently conduct an independent enquiry to identify and prosecute those responsible for any criminal acts and (2) urgently ensure the safety of the communities and their property. As we act to support emergency relief efforts for those affected - more than 2,000 households are estimated to be homeless - we call on experts in humanitarian response, social issues and indigenous rights to help address the humanitarian and social challenges the violence has exacerbated. 


Our organisations are committed to help secure the long-term future of Salonga National Park for the well-being of people and nature, both locally and worldwide. We are determined to work together with partners and local communities to protect Salonga and the people who depend on it. 








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