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South Sudan bans wildlife hunting and trade in game trophies

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Tuesday banned all forms of wildlife hunting, including commercial trade in wildlife trophies, the country’s conservation agency said Tuesday.

The ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism banned wildlife products such as skin, meat, fur, bird feathers, among others.

According to the directive, any person caught dealing with wildlife products shall be arrested, prosecuted and those found guilty would face a two-year jailed term or fines.

Thomas Sebit, deputy spokesman of the ministry of wildlife conservation and tourism, told Xinhua that the ban seeks to clamp down on poaching of wild animals in the country’s national parks.

He said the government recently noticed increased poaching of gazelles, buffaloes and elephants by armed groups and civilians across the country.

“There are people who are holding guns, they go to the national parks and kill our animals randomly not discriminating whether old or young. You get cooked bush meat in hotels and being sold in markets openly,” Sebit said.

War-torn South Sudan has the world’s second largest animal migration and is considered a good place for ecotourism, according to the World Travel and Tourism Council (WTTC).

The East African country is also known for its vast swamp region of the Sudd, sometimes referred to as one of the largest wetlands in the world hosting about 400 species of birds.

However, the tourism industry made up only 1.8 percent of South Sudan’s GDP, WTTC said in 2013.

“We are urging our citizens to respect the law. These are animals for us and will help us in the future when well managed to boost our economy,” Sebit appealed.



South Sudan says rehabilitation of ex-child combatants on progress

JUBA South Sudan (Xinhua) -- South Sudan on Monday said the rehabilitation and reintegration of hundreds of former child combatants recently released from various armed groups is on progress at various training centers.

William Deng Deng, head of the South Sudan Disarmament Demobilization and Reintegration (DDR), told journalists that they are already offering trauma and psycho-social treatment to 311 ex-child combatants released in February with the help of UN children’s fund (UNICEF) from the South Sudan National Liberation Movement (SSNLM) in Yambio, south of the capital.

“The reason they (children) joined combat is because they lack skills to live within the economy. We are already offering counseling, trauma treatment and psycho-social support to them,” Deng said in Juba, adding that they are registering the remaining 389 children in Budue State out of 700 that have been released.

Deng disclosed that vocational skills like carpentry, farming, building and brick laying are some of the skills the ex-child soldiers are receiving.

Oluku Andrew, national coordinator for Child DDR, confirmed they are aware of more children still serving in various armed groups.

“What we know there are still more children with armed groups, so long as the conflict continues there are groups that tend to use children,” he said, adding that children act as informers and helpers within the armed groups.

Oluku added that about 4,000 former child soldiers have been released from armed groups between 2011-2018.

According to UNICEF, 17,000 were recruited into armed conflict by the warring groups since the start of war in 2013 including 2,342 children killed or maimed, 3,090 children abducted, and 1,130 children sexually assaulted.

South Sudan descended into violence in December 2013, after political dispute between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar led to fighting mostly between Dinka ethnic soldiers loyal to Kiir against Machar’s Nuer ethnic group.

The 2015 peace agreement to end the violence was again violated in July 2016 when the rival factions resumed fighting in the capital forcing Machar to flee into exile.

The conflict has killed tens of thousands of people and displaced millions that have sought refuge in neighboring countries.


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