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To: SOCO International's Board of Directors
Save Virunga National Park from SOCO International oil and gas exploration
Respectfully, many from the international community want you to permanently terminate the exploration and drilling of oil reserves under Lake Edward, in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The risk it poses to the protected ecosystem and last wild habitat of mountain gorillas found in Virunga National Park is far too high. Additionally, the thousands of people that call Lake Edward home, and who depend on the lake for food will likely suffer as a result of SOCO's activities. The risks far outweigh the benefits. We are asking you to stop.
Why is this important?
Virunga National Park, in the Democratic Republic of Congo, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. International law clearly states that these sites are off limits to resource exploitation. Yet, SOCO International has continued its exploration and prospect of drilling the oil reserves thought to be stored under Lake Edward, at the center of the park, in spite of these laws. At present they have halted their activities in park but have yet to abandon them all together.
Virunga National Park is the last natural habitat for mountain gorillas. The population has reached a dismal low of 800. Not only is the park home to gorillas, but a number of other endangered species, including lions and elephants. The current efforts to defend the park and protect the gorillas has fallen in the hands of brave park rangers who have said they will defend Virunga until their last dying breath.
Unfortunately, political unrest and the proliferation of armed rebel groups continually threaten the work of the park rangers, and poaching persists. The work of SOCO directly undermines the security of Virunga and the Democratic Republic of Congo as a whole. There is substantial evidence that SOCO is funding these armed rebels in an effort to overthrow the protection of Virunga and, as a result, further destabilizing an already extremely unstable situation so they may drill for oil with the potential to gain billions of dollars.
The people of the Congo, Virunga National Park, and the gorillas need our help. The operations of companies like SOCO have gotten rich by exploiting people and land, for far too long. We as a global community need to speak out against these atrocities. This story is far too familiar, and one that continues to play out again and again. In the name of social justice, environmental justice, and the environmental security for the planet, tell SOCO to STOP!