The UN Mine Action Services (UNMAS) plans to use 37 explosive detection dogs which arrived in South Sudan on Friday as part of efforts to protect civilians in the country.
UNMAS South Sudan said the presence of explosive detection dogs (EDD) will be increased throughout the country to reduce risks at the mission's facilities and the people living in the Protection of Civilian (PoC) sites in Bor, Bentiu and Malakal.
"These dogs are valuable team members who work hard to protect vulnerable populations in South Sudan," it said in a statement received on Monday.
If it smells something suspicious, the dog is taught to sit down and await further instructions, as opposed to pawing at something that could potentially blow up.
The UNMAS said the explosive detection dogs regularly support UN Police (UNPOL) to conduct searches of protection of civilians sites, cargo and entry points, to detect prohibited or hazardous items, all of which are swiftly removed by UNPOL so that internally displaced people and others under the protection of the UN Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) remain safe from harm.
"Currently UNMAS has six EDD teams which focus on entry point control and cargo searches in Juba. In 2015, 19,781 vehicles, 13,587 bags and 970 buildings were searched using these teams," the statement said.
The dogs were transferred to temporary kennels in Gumbo, Juba, where they are being acclimatized and paired with their future handlers.
"Once the dogs are settled they will be paired with expert handlers who will complete additional training with the dogs, which is tailored specifically to South Sudan," UNMAS said.
"While some of the dogs will remain in Juba, to work at the UN Thom Ping Base, UN House the POC sites and the UN airport, many will be transferred to Bentiu, Bor and Malakal."
UNMAS emphasized that the dogs are working animals and have been specially trained to perform the roles they will undertake. They are safe and friendly animals and have been screened for illness and disease and received the necessary vaccinations.
"The welfare of the dogs is of prime importance to UNMAS, as is the safety of the communities within which they will be working