The EU will review support for other parks in the Congo Basin after pressure from the abuse allegation filed by Survival International.
The European Union has suspended funding for a controversial WWF project aimed at creating a protected area in the Congo Basin, after various investigations confirmed a persistent pattern of abuse against the Baka 'pygmies' living there.
Baka have suffered beatings, torture, sexual abuse, undue detention and killings by WWF-funded and supported rangers.
In February 2020 Survival met with the European Commission team in charge of the project, and highlighted that the project had never had the consent of the local population, so it went against the commitments of the EC itself to the project went ahead.
The suspension of EU support for the project is unprecedented and marks a great victory for the Baka, who have always shown their opposition to it, and for Survival supporters, who have fought alongside the Baka to have it canceled.
Fiore Longo, who leads Survival's #DecolonizeConservation campaign, declared today: “The Baka have inhabited this land since time immemorial. They never agreed to give any part of it to the WWF project. However, they have been excluded and intimidated from its use for years ”.
“This has set in motion the destruction of their communities and their way of life, which means that it is too late to obtain their prior consent and makes it impossible for the project to move forward, or be funded, without violating the commitments of the EC and the norms and policies of human rights of the United Nations ”.
“We are pleased that the EU has finally recognized the dire consequences of this terrible project. Now they must discard it completely. It is the result of the worst type of colonial conservation that has stolen their land from the Baka, expelling them from it and leading them to a life of misery. The jungles of the Congo Basin will only be protected if you work with the Baka themselves, and really listen to them, and not by acting like a 19th century colonial power.
“For a whole century, Europeans have imposed their conservation projects on the local population in Africa, with the arrogance of someone who claims to know better than anyone how to care for the natural world. This is a falsehood, but only now, under the pressure of an intense public campaign, is it beginning to be recognized and, hopefully, also addressed. We hope this decision sets a precedent for the countless similar projects that Western conservation organizations are imposing on local communities. "