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Fighting in gorilla sector
28 October 2008

The Gorilla Organization is becoming increasingly concerned about the security situation in eastern DR Congo. On Sunday 26 October, rebel soldiers loyal to dissident general Laurent Nkunda, took control of the Virunga National Park headquarters at Rumangabo, and a major army base in the area.

During the last two days the rebels have advanced further and are now controlling much of the area in and around the Virunga National Park and threatening to take control of Goma town, where the Gorilla Organization’s Congolese headquarters are based.

Henry Cirhuza, the Gorilla Organization’s Congolese progamme manager informed the London office this morning that all staff have been advised to stay at home and not travel around Goma town. The situation is being monitored closely and if it worsens the possibility of travelling over the border to Rwanda will be investigated.

Tuver Wundi, the Gorilla Organization’s communication manager, also based in Goma is trying to reach colleagues working on projects in Kiwanja, just north of rebel occupied area.

The Congolese wildlife authority (ICCN) rangers based at the Rumangabo headquarters were forced to flee the cap when it was invaded at the weekend. They escaped in to the forest and were trying to make their way through the forest to safety. Contact has since been lost with the rangers and there are fears for their safety and health as they remain in the forest without food and water.

Obviously all gorilla monitoring activities have been forced to cease as a result of the situation and the gorillas are now in the middle of what is turning into major conflict. While the gorillas are not a target of the fighting taking place between the army and the rebels we can only hope that they do not get caught up in the crossfire.

The Gorilla Organization will continue to monitor the situation closely and do all it can to keep staff and gorillas safe.

More information about the situation in eastern DR Congo can be found on the BBC website.

for further information or photographs contact:

David Hewitt, Communications Manager
The Gorilla Organization, 110 Gloucester Avenue, London, Nw1 8HX
Tel: 020 7916 4974
Mobile: 07801 971123