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First ever SAC mission in Darfur's UNAMID camps



FOUR PAWS's Stray Animal Care (SAC) team has been treating and sterilizing 150 stray dogs in Darfur military camps in partnership with UNAMID, the UN – African Union joint mission in Sudan’s Darfur province. The stray dog care operation started in early February 2012 upon invitation by the Sudanese Government and UNAMID. FOUR PAWS aims to implement a birth control program for stray dogs in order to prevent an increasing population that would worsen the suffering of animals and humans in this crisis-riven region . As part of the programme, more than 40 Sudanese veterinarians and students from the Darfur area and in Khartoum took benefit from intensive stray animal care training sessions by the FOUR PAWS team.

 

Anca Tomescu, veterinarian and head of the Stray Animal Care program at FOUR PAWS, explained: “This is the first operation of its kind in FOUR PAWS's animal welfare record and also a premiere in the history of UN missions worldwide. The Darfur stray animal care operation will also be used as a lighthouse project to inspire and inform other UN missions with similar stray animal issues. This project has improved the fate of numerous dogs. Dogs were shot before, simply because there was no alternative. Instead of being killed, the animals will be sterilized in future.”



The stray animal care programme took place between February 4th - 28th, in the Darfur cities El Fashir, Kutum, Zalingei, Nertiti, El Geneina, Masteri, Nyala and in Sudan’s capital Khartoum. FOUR PAWS’s first project in Sudan was organized upon request by the Sudanese Government and facilitated by Andrea Treso, Political Affairs Officer with UNAMID. The FOUR PAWS operation included catching, sterilizing and providing medical treatment to stray and non-stray dogs within and around the military camps territories.

 

Darfur and its inhabitants have been trapped in an endless military conflict that took more than 400 000 victims and led to the displacement of nearly 2.5 mln. Thus the conditions for dogs are equally difficult. The animals are suffering from lack of water and food. The locals help stray dogs around their households as good as they can, but there is little to share.

 

The veterinarian team of FOUR PAWS had a hard job to catch the animals as they tried to hide in the most concealed and unexpected places. Once put together in cages, the dogs are being transported to the clinic in the UN camp, where they were dewormed, sterilized, vaccinated and did receive medical treatment if needed. Besides a single dog with a triple fracture, the VP team didn't encounter very serious cases. In total, 150 cats and dogs were sterilized.



Due to the fragile security situation most of the transports are done by helicopter or convoyed by trucks, in which approximately 200 kg of medical equipment are loaded and unloaded each time. News of the SAC team’s arrival did spread rapidly all over the UN camps, and the Romanian veterinarians have been warmly welcomed every time. Some of the military even accompany the veterinarians to the catching actions and lend a helping hand.

 

Along with sterilization and medical treatment, FOUR PAWS specialists conducted a training programme for Sudanese veterinarians, veterinary technicians and students. Most of them did not had any experience in treating cats, dogs and other small animals. The trainings aimed at educating local vet’s to continue and spread the birth control programme in order to prevent killings of stray dogs in future.



Andrea Treso, Political Affairs Officer at UNAMID, said: „I would like to express my deepest appreciation to FOUR PAWS INTERNATIONAL for having sent your team free of charge to Sudan to help UNAMID implementing a pilot project to control and reduce the number of stray dogs and cats as to prevent health-, safety- and hygiene hazards. This is the first time in the history of United Nations that a project of this kind of stray animal control is implemented. It will therefore have an impact on other peacekeeping missions which face similar challenges. The project will also have an impact on Darfur and its local people as it involves the training of more than 40 local veterinarians in the capture, neuter, vaccinate and release method to make it sustainable, and thereby strengthening also the local veterinarian system in Darfur.”


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