It is with tremendous sadness that we share this tragic news. Our thoughts and prayers are with the families and friends of all the victims, and we remain fully committed to the mission of the Virunga National Park. This video provides further information.
Virunga National Park is situated in a region of extreme poverty with a long history of violence dating back to the Rwandan genocide in 1994. It is unfortunately still a hotspot for brutal crimes against civilians with several militias recruiting disillusioned young men as well as child soldiers. The recent massacre, carried out by the FDLR militia, relates to these conflicts which regularly spill over into the Park. Although often portrayed as ethically driven, these conflicts are often the result of the fight for control over the abundant natural resources.
The Virunga Alliance, founded by Virunga National Park, is desperately trying to turn the tables by working to establish alternative sources of income to the local population of over 4 million people. One example is Virunga Energy which supports the local economy with green electricity.
Although such an event could bring into question the viability of this work, 3W believes this is the only way forward. Without the dedicated management of the park, this entire area would likely be controlled by militias. Having their power base in western Congo, the Congolese authorities are too weak to uphold law and order in Virunga. 3W is determined to continue its support of Virunga National Park. The emphasis on providing long-term support to fallen rangers’ families will be even greater. A significant milestone will be the opening of the Virunga Origins Chocolate Factory which employs 20 widows. As the financier and active investor, 3W is proud to share ownership of Virunga Origins Chocolate with Virunga National Park as well as the chocolate “dream team” comprised of Dominique Persoone, the Chocolatier Extraordinaire behind Belgium’s Chocolate Line; Mathieu Brees, founder of the bean to bar company, Ki’Xocolatl; and Dimitri Moreels, founder and CEO of COPAK. Virunga Origins will export a totally finished product made of local cocoa with all profits going back to the park and surrounding communities.