Sunday, October 14, 2007

The War Still Rages~ Mufabure-"Killed without Reason"

Close-up detail of "Mufabure-Killied without Reason"
(c) Robin J. Andreae 2007
It is now one week since I posted this painting and the war in the gorilla sector of Virunga Park still rages on. As promised, I will continue posting Mufabure's portrait until the rangers are allowed to go back into the park to protect and care for the gorillas.
In a recent Oxfam report the cost of the wars in Africa from 1990 on could have topped $300 billion dollars. That's approximately $18 billion dollars a year. These figures do not consider the uncalcuable damage to the environment and the wildlife. Animals are often caught in the crossfire. The park rangers are no longer able to do their jobs and poachers once again have free-reign of protected areas. Those figures also do not include the loss of income from the eco-tourism industry that could proliferate. In Rwanda and Uganda, tourists regularly pay $500.00 per person per day for a chance to view Mountain Gorillas. Even when war rages in the neighboring country, tourists leave.
The most commmon weapon, the AK-47, used in the wars that rage in Africa does not originate from there. The Oxfam report suggests this to help stem the flow of arms into Africa:
"Africa, as elsewhere, needs new international standards on arms transfers – a strong and effective Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Such a treaty would not prevent the responsible transfer of weapons for defence, policing, peacekeeping, and other legitimate purposes, but it must prohibit arms transfers if they are likely to be used to:
- Commit serious violations of international humanitarian law;
- Commit serious violations of international human rights law;
- Undermine sustainable development.
Although the causes of armed violence are many and highly complex, and require a variety of actions to be taken, we believe that an ATT based on these principles would be one important tool in reducing armed violence in Africa. "
Please write your congresspeople, senators and presidential canidates. Please help spread the word.
Here are a couple of suggested letters from Christine C. , a regular poster on the gorilla protection blog. Please feel free to use them:
I am not sure how much coverage XXX has previously devoted to the plight of the mountain gorillas in the DR Congo’s Virunga National Park, however, even if there has been some, it is a story that bears much repeating.
Although I am sure you are no strangers to the problems in the DR Congo, you may be less familiar with its national treasure, Virunga National Park. Currently, there are a number of rangers (paid for by charitable donations through an organization called Wildlife Direct)that protect the mountain gorilla sectors — however, they have not been able to do their jobs because both rebels (General Nkunda) and the Congolese army have taken over those sectors. At this time we know they (army and rebels) are destroying the current ranger stations, ripping out their crops and have taken their supplies (weapons, radios, cell phones, etc…). We also know that they will not let the rangers in to check on the safety and welfare of the habituated gorilla families. Given that, over the past decade, 150 rangers have literally sacrificed their lives for the care of the park and its inhabitants; the ongoing strife in this corner of the world; and the very significant humanitarian issues involved here, I hope that much more attention will be brought to these issues in the near future.
Thank you for considering this story. More information about this situation can be found at

Issues surrounding the instability and violence in the DR Congo seem to be non-existent in all of the current presidential campaigns. If elected, would XXX encourage the US to take a greater role in securing peace in that nation? It is clear that DR Congo represents a variety of important interests, everything from stopping genocide and encouraging true democracy, to protecting the environment, halting the extinction of a variety of animals (including mountain gorillas) and securing the safety of the people indigenous to that region. The US has been too quiet for too long about the human and environmental problems in Africa and the surrounding areas — it is time to take a stand and show the world what it really means to be a global leader.

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