Officer leaves Langley crime fighting duties to protect cattle in Africa
Langley RCMP Staff Sgt. Dave Carr is used to being the watch commander in charge of a 21-unit patrol who deal with crimes of all sorts, including violent disputes, drug dealing and property thefts.
Today, and until October, he is working on a United Nations mission on the livestock protection unit in South Sudan. He volunteered for the mission, Carr said in correspondence with The Times via email.
“Our (the RCMP’s) International Peace Operations Branch periodically advertises for upcoming missions. If your home unit can support your deployment you go through a selection process. Some missions require a certain skill set or minimum rank in order to apply,” said Carr.
He loves the challenge and it isn’t his first mission. Carr served in war-torn Kosovo in 2003, having the difficult duty of identifying bodies. Then in 2008, he volunteered to work in East Timor to work on preventing human trafficking and sex slavery. Now, he’s travelled to East Africa to reduce the violence associated with the war over cattle.
Cattle raiding is a big and violent problem in South Sudan.
With limited economic opportunities and fragile livelihoods, every year thousands of heads of cattle are stolen in violent attacks and retaliatory wars, he said.
This livestock protection unit is being created, with support from the South Sudanese government and help from the UN, to end the cycles of violence that have existed for generations.
South Sudan is home to approximately 1.3 million people. It has limited road networks and suffers seasonal flooding and widespread food insecurity.
Carr is stationed in Jonglei an area with the highest number of conflicts among different groups migrating with large herds of cattle, trigging conflict and competition for water and grazing areas.
This conflict has taken thousands of lives and the abduction of countless children, he said.
Carr is in charge of establishing the whole unit, working with UN and Sudan police, heads of state while setting up the unit with proper equipment, like vehicles and communication items.
“After decades of civil war the people here are keen to move on. The South Sudanese are easy to work with and seem to genuinely appreciate the help,” said Carr. “After some fighting between South Sudan and Sudan later last year, the oil taps were turned off. Given that 98 per cent of this country’s revenue is from oil, there is little money flowing in.”
While a majority of Carr’s work keeps him in offices, the field work he does has been challenging with extreme poverty and quality food hard to find.
“It’s usually on field missions when we find ourselves getting ill,” he said. What might take one step in Langley, takes three steps in Sudan, usually with at least one step back, he said.
“There are mounds of red tape,” he said.
His compound where he lives in a house with four other men is basic but very decent, he said. There is a restaurant in the compound and lots of stores to buy supplies in town.
But there is very little to do in Jonglei when he isn’t working.
“We pass our time keeping active by running, playing sports or going to the gym.”
Other Langley RCMP officers have served in various missions, such as Bosnia and Kosovo.