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Enough Project urges Senate to pass tough anti-poaching law, halt profits to violent groups, global traffickers

World Wildlife Day as Elephants Face Extinction in Bloody Ivory Trade

Washington, D.C., March 2, 2016 (SSNA) -- As tomorrow marks World Wildlife Day, the Enough Project speaks out against the slaughter of wild elephants across Africa. Enough has documented in recent reports an out-of-control ivory trade that is deadly for both elephants and people, and urges support for critical anti-poaching legislation now gaining momentum in the US Senate, following passage of parallel legislation in the House late last year.

In partnership with African Parks, Enough also urgently calls for increased support for park rangers battling to save elephants from increasingly well-organized and heavily armed poaching crews.

Kasper Agger, Field Researcher for the Enough Project based in Central Africa, said: “Some of Africa’s deadliest rebel groups, corrupt officials and criminal gangs are killing elephants at an alarming rate and this iconic species could disappear within just a few decades if left unattended. Park rangers remain the first line of defense and need much greater assistance, including training and material support in their fight against violent poachers.”

Ian Schwab, Director of Advocacy at the Enough Project, said: "The Senate Foreign Relations Committee has an opportunity to move forward strong legislation that would protect wildlife and help stop the flow of money and resources to armed groups from elephant poaching and other forms of wildlife trafficking. With committed bi-partisan support in both the House and Senate, this is precisely the type of issue where the American people expect action."

Andrea Heydlauff, Director of Communications, African Parks, said: "African elephants are being targeted increasingly by militarized and well-outfitted poaching gangs across their range. While terrorizing elephants and other species, poachers also wreak havoc on surrounding local communities. In certain cases, park rangers are the only stabilizing force for both wildlife and people."

Holly Dranginis, Senior Policy Analyst at the Enough Project, said: “This legislation would be a game-changer in two of the most intractable crises threatening lives across Central Africa -- brutal armed group violence and the rapid deterioration of some of our most cherished wildlife species. Human security and conservation are inextricably linked. They should no longer be treated by policymakers as on separate tracks. That link has made armed groups stronger and more threatening than ever before, but it also presents an untapped opportunity for effective interventions before it's too late."

Designated by the United Nations, this year’s official theme for World Wildlife Day, “The future of wildlife is in our hands,” places a special focus on elephants. In Africa, wild elephants are facing extinction due to massive poaching by armed groups and a lucrative, criminal trade in ivory that spans the globe.

Sasha Lezhnev, Associate Director of Policy at the Enough Project, said: “Deadly armed groups such as Joseph Kony's Lord's Resistance Army, as well as Sudanese and South Sudanese armed factions, rely on poaching and trafficking ivory for ammunition and supplies. But this illegal trade wouldn't be sustained if it weren't for corrupt actors in governments in east Africa who help smuggle the ivory. To combat this, the Obama administration should step up its anti-corruption and customs enforcement efforts on wildlife trafficking in the region.”

Kasper Agger added: “Violent groups like the Lord’s Resistance Army and the Janjaweed, which are responsible for the killing of thousands of innocent civilians and the forceful displacement of populations across Africa, are deeply involved with elephant hunting and illicit ivory trafficking, because of massive profits.  Blood ivory is now a major driver of insecurity across Africa and not only threatens elephants but also directly leads to killings of people.”

In 2013, at its 68th session, the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) proclaimed March 3rd, the day of signature of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), as World Wildlife Day to celebrate and raise awareness of the world’s wild animals and plants.

RESOURCES:

  • Read the Enough Project report “Tusk Wars”: http://eno.ug/1P1rlf2
  • Testimony of Sasha Lezhnev, Enough Project Associate Director of Policy, before the House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing, on the role of the Lord’s Resistance Army in the poaching of elephants: http://eno.ug/1JD4e3E
  • Short film “Last Days” by Oscar-winning director Kathryn Bigelowhttp://eno.ug/1OMQAh2
  • Information about UN World Wildlife Day: www.wildlifeday.org

LEGISLATION:

For media inquiries or interview requests, please contact:
Greg Hittelman, Director of Communications, +1 310 717 0606,  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

About THE ENOUGH PROJECT: The Enough Project, an atrocity prevention policy group, seeks to build leverage for peace and justice in Africa by helping to create real consequences for the perpetrators and facilitators of genocide and other mass atrocities. Enough aims to counter rights-abusing armed groups and violent kleptocratic regimes that are fueled by grand corruption, transnational crime and terror, and the pillaging and trafficking of minerals, ivory, diamonds, and other natural resources. Enough conducts field research in conflict zones, develops and advocates for policy recommendations, supports social movements in affected countries, and mobilizes public campaigns. Learn more – and join us – at www.EnoughProject.org

About AFRICAN PARKS: African Parks is a non-profit conservation organization that takes on direct responsibility for the rehabilitation and long-term management of national parks and protected areas in partnership with governments and local communities. With currently ten parks under management in seven countries – CAR, Chad, Republic of Congo, DRC, Malawi, Rwanda and Zambia - African Parks is protecting more than six million hectares and has the largest counter-poaching force in Africa.  To learn more please visit www.african-parks.org

Enough Project, 1333 H St., NW 10th Floor, Washington, DC 20005 United States.

Sudan says UN Jebel Marra attacks claim and displacement figure is inaccurate

Golo/Khartoum, March 1, 2016 (SSNA) --The Sudanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs has dismissed reports by the UN on the number of people who have been displaced by the fighting between the army and rebel forces in Darfur’s Jebel Marra since 15 January. OCHA, the coordinating office of the UN’s humanitarian affairs, reported on Thursday that more than 90,000 people from Jebel Marra are estimated to be displaced by the conflict as of 21 February. ‘This includes 87,500 new internally displaced persons in North Darfur, according to aid organisations, and 2,750 displaced in Central Darfur’, OCHA’s weekly news bulletin read.

The spokesman for the Ministry, Ali El Sadig, said that those figures are “based on verbal and hearsay information” from persons who are not able to reach inner Jebel Marra. According to El Sadig's press statement on Monday, the number of displaced people by the fighting has reached 73,000. He claimed that most have returned to their home villages after the end of the military operations, and that government authorities have provided much humanitarian aid to these returnees. The spokesman added that Khartoum has denied international aid agencies access to the people in the affected areas in order to ensure “the safety of the workers operating at the UN and the humanitarian activists."

The government’s military operations against the rebel SLM-AW stronghold in Jebel Marra have not yet come to an end, although for the first time since 15 January, no Sudanese aircraft were reported above west Jebel Marra for a full day on Sunday. The following morning, residents in the western part of the mountains woke up to loud explosions around Golo, one of them told Radio Dabanga.

Tens of thousands of people who have fled their villages remain trapped in Jebel Marra’s mountain top and caves, and the health situation continues to deteriorate. “There is no adequate supply to treat the newly displaced. More and more children suffer from malnutrition,” a witness from west Jebel Marra said. Diseases such as diarrhoea, flu, and malaria are becoming common. Another concern is that displaced students are unable to sit for their final exams.

Travelling to schools in Nierteti is dangerous because of the closed roads. Militiamen in Golo assaulted and robbed a number of school boys of their belongings on Monday, as they were on their way to sit for the basic stage exams. Several of them have gone missing, their parents told Radio Dabanga on Monday.

SPLA-IO accuses government of impeding peace implementation

Pagak/Addis Ababa, February 29, 2016 (SSNA) -- The military command of the Sudan People’s Liberation Army-In Opposition (SPLA-IO) has warned of possible delay of peace implementation, saying Salva kiir government is refusing to designate locations for troops of the armed opposition.

The allegation came days after peace partners indicated willingness to transport rebel forces to in and around Juba.

In a statement, a copy of which was obtained by the South Sudan News Agency (SSNA), the rebel military command say peace partners are still working to transport its soldiers and criticizes the way the government is handling the peace process and warns of delay unless provisions in the power-sharing deal are met.

“The peace partners are still on the plan to transport the largest contingents of SPLA/IO forces to Juba but this would not [happen as planned],” SPLA-IO says.

The armed opposition says at least 1370 soldiers of the SPLA-IO are expected to arrive in Juba on or about March 1st.

However, Pagak says the move is not happening, blaming Juba for the failure and demands that South Sudanese government for not respecting the pact.

“South Sudan government needs to designate clearly the cantonment areas within Juba for the quick transportation of SPLA/IO force right from Airport to the sites,” rebels demanded.

Rebels also demand that they want to know how basic services such as food, water, medical care, and other necessary services will be provided to their forces, adding that the Ethiopian government is also needed to first approve transit process of the rebel light weapons from Pagak and other areas to Juba.

The SSNA understands that the SPLA-IO soldiers will be picked up from rebel outposts to in and around Juba.

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