Bangladesh: Protection of detainees continues amid COVID-19
Dhaka (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) continues to support the Prisons Directorate (PD) in Bangladesh amid COVID-19 to help mitigate the risk of the spread of coronavirus infection among detainees and its staff members. It recently contributed to increase of the capacity of the Old Dhaka Central Jail accommodation centre for guards.
Under this project, the ICRC donated five tents for housing guards, set up hygiene facilities and power supply, while supporting the centre with disinfection materials and personal protection equipment (PPE).
The ICRC further extended its support to the PD by setting up three focal COVID-19 isolation facilities, reflected in the technical cooperation, the management of infrastructure and services in Feni and Kishoreganj isolation centres. Besides this, work is under way to launch a 70-bed isolation centre in the central jail of Keraniganj.
The support includes designing and implementing the rehabilitation of the centres, providing technical support to establish guidelines and implementing infection prevention and control measures. Basic medical and sanitation equipment, as well as furniture, have also been provided.
Explaining the ICRC's continued assistance, Henning Krause, protection coordinator of ICRC Bangladesh, says, "Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak in Bangladesh, we managed to identify quite early the major needs of the response to the pandemic in the prisons and have actively engaged with the PD to assist the detainees and PD staff members."
The ICRC has focused its activities in prisons due to their particular vulnerability in the face of a pandemic, and its priority has been to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 among the detainees and staff. Infection prevention and control measures to tackle the spread of coronavirus have been key, and the ICRC team has developed guidelines, training sessions and standard operational procedures in line with the National Preparedness and Response Plan.
Two batches of sanitation and hygiene materials were delivered to all 68 prisons in April and May 2020 to support them in their efforts. Earlier, 135 infrared thermometers were distributed to all prisons to strengthen their medical screening capacity in close coordination with the detention authorities.
The Inspector General of Prisons, Brigadier General AKM Mustafa Kamal Pasha, expressed gratitude and appreciation to the ICRC for its efforts to strengthen the awareness and preparedness of the PD regarding a possible outbreak: "The ICRC has actively intervened with assistance and support of our response in confronting COVID-19. We look forward to cooperating for prisoners' health care in the future as well," he said.
Together with the PD, the ICRC's further support of infection prevention and control materials and PPE is planned to be carried out across all prisons to enhance their COVID-19 preparedness and response.