On 5th June, a team of 22 people headed by Bwengye Dickens, a protection with the office OPM, started an operation of killing dogs in Kyangwali Refugee Settlement massively. This act was ordered by the settlement commandant Ms. Jolly Kebirungi together with the UNHCR protection office on grounds that dogs were biting refugees, which posed a risk of rabies transmission.
In Kasonga, they have so far killed 170 dogs but our findings revealed that there are still some dogs that have not been found. This has been due to some dog owners having been hiding them away to prevent them from being killed. The persons in charge of the killings of these dogs seem to have a list of homes with dogs and are using this information to trap the dogs making the hiding efforts by some owners unsuccessful. The dog owners are asked to tie the dogs and kill them, or if they can’t manage to kill their own dogs, should inform the team to come and kill it then take the dead body away. People from the communities tried to protect their dogs but the persons killing the dogs use local leaders to obtain information such as addresses of dog owners making it easy for them to target dog owners who are not cooperating in the operation. Some people who own dogs have been reporting that they don’t know where their dogs are, but Mr. Bwengye realized that it is a trick they are trying to use and hide their dogs so that they cannot be killed. Mr. Bwengye then came out with a solution for such people; arresting them and taking them to prison to pressure the rest of the family members to look for the dog, hand it to him and then let the person out of prison.
“These dogs have been biting about 5-10 people in a day. Some have been admitted to Kituuti, others are still going through the effects of the dog biting and others have even died. This is very true because we have made research and we have even reached some of the victims and talked to them”, Bwengye told Kyangwali News on 3rd June during an operation..
The survey from the UNHCR and OPM gave results that dogs have multiplied and became too many; 10,000 just within the settlement with some homes having more than one dog in one home. In the coordination meeting, the decision to massively kill dogs was taken and the OPM protection department took over this responsibility. They projected a 10 day elimination plan to have a dog free refugee settlement. Although the team has been killing about 40-50 dogs per day, they have met too many challenges making them unable to reach the target within the estimated period of time. They have so far killed 400 dogs in just 3 villages, Kasonga, Kyebitaka and Nguruwe which is far from the 10,000 number of the total dogs in the settlement. Mr. Bwengye said that they will request for more days so that the operation can be completed.
The operation has been facilitated by the local leaders and the community has blamed the leaders who they believe would have saved their dogs. About 80% of the people don’t want to see their dogs killed and 20% give out their dogs willingly without any complaint. People have cried when they see their dogs get killed, some curse the people who are involved in the attempt. “God forbid you, you will never get rich, and you will all die like you have killed my dog”, an old woman shouted at Bwengye. Mr. Bwengye says that he understands the feeling of the owners of the dogs when they see them being killed but there is nothing to be done beyond what the authorities commanded. He reported to Kyangwali News that it has been a great emotional act when he sees old women, men and the rest of the families crying for their dogs as they are being killed. He said that it’s all being following orders from his bosses and he can’t disobey them; otherwise he would have done something to help out beyond that. When he received complaint from the communities who shared opinion on other solutions to the problem that have been caused by the dogs, such as vaccination, tie them in one place and make sure they stay home, he told them that he was not in the meeting but was just given orders to do so (kill all the dogs) and it was under a signed contract.
Out of the 10 days, they have worked for 7days now and have the activity ongoing, they expect to sign a new contract after the remaining 3 days elapse. The largest number of dogs have not yet been killed, but people have continued to share opinions and alternative solutions other than just killing the massive dog killings.