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DRC outbreak of serious violence


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#21 GBE

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Posted 13 December 2016 - 02:05 AM

We have a trip scheduled to Virunga in February, 2017.  Our spaces are being held without deposit through the end of the month so we can see what develops on and after December 19.  

 

All of the information above appears accurate and anyone contemplating travel to the DRC should only do so after sober deliberation.  Thus far, in my research into current conditions in those areas we will be travelling, I have found no reports of violence toward tourists visiting the southern trekking areas of Virunga NP.  The NP has provided the only real security and opportunity for locals and it is no longer simply the Rangers against all others.  There is also a certain "weariness" of violence in the eastern DRC and Kivu districts specifically.  While the political situation may result in some unrest, there is serious doubt it will lead to widespread violence, particularly in the east.  That said, the NP is very aware of the impact violence toward tourists would have on the long term viability of everything they have fought to create over the past 8 years.  To help mitigate the risk, park rangers will escort us at all times from the minute we clear immigration to the minute we leave.  Our schedules are built based on travel only during daylight hours with plenty of room to spare.  While some would say the NP will encourage us to come no matter what, the truth is they will not recommend travel if they believe there is undo risk.  The impact of violence toward tourists in the DRC and specifically Kivu area would be devastating and not worth risking in the short term.

 

Will there be another opportunity?  Will there be greater stability and less security concerns in the future?  No question part of our decision to go will come down to these very questions.  Also included in our consideration will be the value our $ to the long term viability of Virunga NP.  But it isn't just $ either.  We could simply donate online.  We will also consider the value of sharing our experience here on ST as well as other media as a means to assuage other's concerns so more will follow.  Without question, the few TRs here on ST along with TA have given us a preliminary, albeit cautious, confidence.  

 

We welcome any direct, recent experience people have had in the DRC and especially Kivu area.

 

Lastly, and perhaps this should be a separate post, the DRC just opened a new NP http://www.voanews.c...rk/3631808.html  Despite all of the turmoil, there is still vision to protect another part of the Congo.


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#22 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 14 December 2016 - 12:18 AM

  • the mood in the news is very much  a delayed election until March 2018  and  a possible major violent confrontation  between protesting people and the overstaying government
  • whilst I recognize  the importance of conservation and the  jobs it generates , if there is a major outbreak of violence  ,no where in the nation could be said to be safe  and roads could easily be cut of
  • bookings being accepted without deposit shows that things are going to be difficult
  • the current state department bulletin advises any US citizens to get out of the DRC  before 19 Dec whilst scheduled transport links are still operating 

Edited by COSMIC RHINO, 14 December 2016 - 12:23 AM.

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#23 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 15 December 2016 - 06:55 AM

  • things do not look good President Kabilia  is still talking about a 2018 election
  • the church mediated talks have been going on since mid October with representatives going between the government  and selected  opposition parties to talk about details for  a possible meeting
  • some opposition parties are staying out of the process and there still has not been a meeting, it has just been having talks about  talks , not a single word has been directly exchanged between the parties
  • human rights watch have reported the arrest of people campaigning for pres kabilia to step down

Edited by COSMIC RHINO, 15 December 2016 - 07:16 AM.

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#24 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 08:34 AM

  • the south African institute of international affairs  http://www.saiia.org.za  reports  in policy insight 39  SOUTH AFRICA'S STATE BUILDING ROLE IN THE DRC KICKING THE CAN DOWN THE ROAD  that the election has now been put back several more months to Dec 2018 instead of march
  • human rights  watch reports  on 15 dec http://www.hrw.org   that the motivation for delaying the election is to safeguard the Kabilia family  business empire , this comes from an investigative Bloomberg report linked in the human rights watch article
  • the Bloomberg report is based on extensive research , documents and interviews
  • the family controls at least 70 companies and 120 mining permits for gold,diamonds,copper,cobalt etc
  • investments are held in banks,farms,fuel distribution,airlines,road building,hotels, pharmaceuticals,travel agencies,boutiques and nightclubs
  • there was an odd venture which tried to use a rocket to send a rat into space
  • the family also is involved in the informal  street based informal sector
  • this is harder to look into , but 2 companies are worth USD 30 million, and another made over   USD 350 in 4 years
  • if violence breaks out it is considered possible that it could go beyond the borders of the DRC
  • millions died when the first pres kabila came to power  20 years ago

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#25 optig

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Posted 16 December 2016 - 08:41 AM

All I know is that I won't be visiting the DRC soon even if it's high on my list of must see locations. I'll have to wait until after the 2018 elections so that things hopefully will simmer down, I'd love to visit the DRC in combination with Rwanda.  

 

However,I must say that none of the most recent reports which I've read say that it's dangerous for tourists. The latest reports continue to rave about the DRC. Please 

enjoy your trip.


Edited by optig, 16 December 2016 - 08:49 AM.


#26 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 19 December 2016 - 12:46 AM

  • the international crisis group has some interesting  reports in  which it is noted that the ruling party has been known to send gangs with machettes  into protests  in the capital city to create injury and fear, at times of potential protests  the government closes down sms  service and social media
  • the mediation talks have ended without any noticeable results
  • the government has closed dowm facebook and whatsap
  • human rights watch has reported on violent suppression  of recent protests , including  deaths, and warns of potential for violence very soon

Edited by COSMIC RHINO, 19 December 2016 - 12:46 AM.

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#27 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 05:39 AM

from the international crisis group report

 

  • there is a political agreement that the use of the  UN peacekeepers  is restricted to the eastern region of the nation and are not to be deployed to major cities
  • during protests which took place earlier in the year  the security forces preferered  to shoot at people  rather than use water cannons
  • senior officials are transferring large sums of money offshore

 

more recently

 

  • there is talk of trying to amend the constitution  to enable a longer term for the president
  • the streets of kingshasa   are largely abandoned  with more security officers around than citizens
  • public transport is very slow
  • there is talk that pres kibilia  does not want to go on ruling but is motivated  to look after the safety of himself, his family and his dubiously acquired wealth
  • the NEW YORK TIMES  has published on  17 DEC a report called  AS PRESIDENT JOSEPH KABILIA DIGS IN TENSIONS RISE IN CONGO  about USD 97.5 million in bank transfers, mining concessions and money laundering,  a bank executive is widely described as his adopted brother 

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#28 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 20 December 2016 - 08:03 AM

allafrica  com  is carrying a DW German radio report  which cites AFP as its source

 

 

 

  • in the DRC by their local time pres kabilia's constitutionally term in office has expired
  • the UN human rights office has stated that 28 people have been arrested in Kingshasa and 56 in Goma and Bukavu
  • people are demonstrating in Kinshasa ,tires are being burnt , gunfire is being heard in multiple districts

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#29 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 12:38 AM

what is going on is of great concern, I wonder what is going on

 

since the DRC has been associated with so much carnage in the past, I wonder if the media has already left or a lying low for their own safety ?


Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#30 GBE

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 02:35 AM

'drc news', 'goma news', 'kabila news' etc will all lead to various media reports.  Most of the reports are variations on the same root reports but given what we knew last week there aren't many/any surprises.  CENCO mediation efforts have restarted with a "plea" to find a peaceful resolution by Christmas.  Such a resolution would truly be a 'Christmas Miracle'.   



#31 optig

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 04:58 AM

Let's face it the Eastern Congo has been in a mess for many years and will continue to be so for the foreseeable future. Mr. Kabila has his tenctacles everywhere. As I know Rwanda is also a major player in the Drc

because it is pursuing it's own interests.

s



#32 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 22 December 2016 - 05:14 AM

  • Jason Stearns a researcher based in the DRC and mentioned in the NY times article   predicts that the DRC is headed for turmoil over several years
  • when they come out the human rights watch news tends to be more detailed, they make me concerned for actual present violence   and likely future events 
  • human rights watch has an office in Goma
  • things are not likely to settle down anytime soon
  • there is talk of a constitutional changes to allow longer presidential terms , the DRC does not have any credibility with having free and fair votes
  • when thinking of the DRC  it must be remembered that on the fragile states index it is one of the most unstable and potentially dangerous places in the world

Edited by COSMIC RHINO, 22 December 2016 - 05:16 AM.

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#33 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 01 January 2017 - 02:23 AM

  • radio france has had its signals blocked in both DCR and CAR
  • there is talk of a yet to be signed Catholic church   mediated agreement with an opposition prime minister, an election before the end of 2017 and Joseph Kabilia not again being a candidate for president
  • the delay in the election is caused by underfuding the electoral commission, the roll has not been updated since 2011

Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#34 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 03 January 2017 - 06:41 AM

things COULD be improving but the agreement is yet to be signed  and the govt  only has 3% of the funding needed for the election


Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#35 COSMIC RHINO

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 12:55 AM

an agreement has been signed  please  see human rights watch  http://www.hrw.org   dated  2 Jan 2017

 

All the main features previously mentioned are there, most importantly there will be no referendums or attempts to change the constitution

 

a govt  representative signed the agreement, not the president himself a point which did not go down with the opposition

 

there is still ongoing violence   , arrest of non violent opponents to the government  and restricted media reporting

 

the restricted reporting makes it hard to work out what is really going on

 

one critic of the government was so abused by the security forces that he appeared  in court in a wheelchair with an IV drip


Wild Africa is in my blood. All life is sacred and interconnected. for the animals are fellow nations caught in the splendor and trevail of the earth.


#36 GBE

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 02:19 AM

@ice - with regard to your 13 year old daughter joining you, the age minimum for gorilla trekking is 15.  While she would be able to join you on Nyiragongo, if rules are followed she would not be able to join you on either of the gorilla treks.  The rule applies to chimpanzee treks as well, in the event the opportunity presented itself while at Mikeno.  

 

We are going as planned.  Security fundamentals relative to tourists haven't changed much over the past year, particularly in north Kivu.  T and I have discussed the risks and have made our own, individual decisions.  I'm not sure I'd make the same decision on behalf of my minor children.  

 

@Zim Girl - No desire to camp on the rim of Nyiragongo?  Or was it simply a matter of limited days and keeping focus on gorillas?  We have gone back and forth on Bukavu or Lulimbi.  Ultimately, we decided to leave eastern lowland gorillas for another trip... though your itinerary has caused us to reconsider a number of times:-)  

 

30 days... 


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#37 ice

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 05:51 AM

@GBE

 

Interesting that you mention the age restrictions, they were not communicated to us by our TA. Out of curiosity, I will ask him, although I have since decided to cancel the trip and hike Mount Kenya instead. Hopefully in a few years things will have cooled down, so that we can make up leeway.



#38 GBE

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 11:53 AM

@ice - Mt Kenya sounds great.  It's awesome you have the opportunity to share these experiences with your daughter.



#39 Zim Girl

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 12:17 PM

@GBE

 

To be honest we didn't really consider the volcano climb as the focus was on the gorilla trekking.  The opportunity to trek both the lowland and mountain gorillas was the main attraction.  We have trekked mountain gorillas in both Rwanda and Uganda previously so this trip completes the trio for them.  

 

I hope everything goes ok for you and I really look forward to hearing how you get on.



#40 ice

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Posted 04 January 2017 - 12:43 PM

@GBE

 

well, acoording to my TA, the minimum age in the DRC is 13, as opposed to 15 in Rwanda and Uganda. However, even in these countries you may trek an earlier age if your parents agree and you look reasonably fit. Personally, I don't have any doubts she would have made it, after all, a year and a half ago we hiked all the way to to the bottom of Grand Canyon (and of course up again, too)







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