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FOUR PAWS cooperation with UNAMID: Second Stray Animal Care project in Darfur

FOUR PAWS is continuing its Stray Animal Care operation in Darfur, the UN-controlled part of Sudan. Less than a year after the first ever mission of its kind, five experienced SAC vets and specialists added three further UNAMID bases to their itinerary: Fur Baranga and Sharif in West Darfur and El Daein in the Eastern part of the region. Geneina, Nyala and the UNAMID headquarters in Al-Fashir have also been sites of the now concluded second SAC project, leading to the treatment and neutering of 187 dogs. The team has focused on helping as many dogs as possible, while also picking up on the training of local vets, which was started in 2012. Companion animals are an important part of social life in the impoverished region, which has been scarred by war for years. However, the animals’ general health is often poor, while care options and birth control need to be established. FOUR PAWS and UNAMID, the joint presence of the United Nations and the African Union in Darfur, are cooperating on improving these conditions for the benefit of both animals and humans.

The one month project was originally scheduled for October, but Visa delays made it necessary to postpone the trip until late January. FOUR PAWS is the only animal welfare organisation active in the region, while UNAMID forces provide the necessary safety by granting access to their camps. During the last visit, which was also based on a UNAMID initiative, many soldiers had become actively involved in the project, contributing significantly to its success. The second tour aimed at expanding on the aid for dogs and improving the veterinary structure, including the further training of local vets, who tend to be specialised in farm animals. The neutering of dogs is just as important here as it is in any other region with a growing population of stays: it is about the animals’ health, the prevention of rabies and other diseases, and the ultimately providing evidence that neutering is the only way to deal with large numbers of stray animals.

Four weeks in Sudan
After the long wait had come to an end thanks to the remarkable efforts by UNAMID officials to obtain the necessary permits, the team was thrilled to be headed to Al-Fashir. The vets had to cope with severe weather, many mosquitos and unusual conditions, but they knew what they are expecting: it is the very same FOUR PAWS team that had worked in Sudan last year. Everyone involved is much aware that the visit can have a crucial long-term impact on the well-being of the often underfed and dehydrated animals – and open another door for modern animal welfare. UNAMID officials have asked FOUR PAWS to return to Al-Fashir in the near future to build up an animal clinic.