COVID-19: ICRC expanding its assistance to Papua
Jakarta (ICRC) – The spread of COVID-19 is yet to show any signs of slowing down and its threat to prisons including in Papua remains a challenge. The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has, therefore, expanded the distribution of hygiene kits and protective equipment to 5 prisons and 4 hospitals in the Papua Province this week, 19-21 October 2020.
The distributions, conducted in partnership with the Directorate General of Corrections (DGC) of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, were carried out at 3 prisons in Jayapura, 1 in Wamena and 1 in Timika, where a total of 1,329 inmates and prisons staff will benefit from the items. Four hospitals in Jayapura, all recipients of COVID-19 patients, also received protective equipment.
The assistance – consisting of soap bars, water containers, hand sanitizers, disinfectant, gloves and masks, sprayers, goggles, personal protective equipment, thermometers, and health promotion posters – has been customized to meet the challenges posed by COVID-19 in detention places and hospitals.
"It's much more difficult to implement preventive measures like social or physical distancing and hygiene protocol in prisons. The ICRC is working closely with prison authorities to control the spread of COVID-19 in places of detention in different provinces in Indonesia, including in Papua and West Papua, which are particularly vulnerable to an outbreak," said Alexandre Faite, the head of the ICRC regional delegation to Indonesia and Timor-Leste who lead the mission.
"Given that prisoners' health is also a public health issue, we can't segregate the two – they affect each other and hence both have to be addressed equally well. Our response has suitably been adapted to meet the evolving needs," he added. He believed that once inside a prison, COVID-19 infections are very difficult to contain and that preventive measures are paramount.
The visit to Jayapura was also the opportunity for the ICRC team to hold meetings and discuss about the situation with the PMI, the Province Secretary as well as with the Head of the COVID-19 Task Force and representatives from the Indonesian National Police (POLRI) and Indonesian Armed Forces (TNI).
In response to the pandemic, the ICRC delegation in Jakarta had earlier distributed hygiene material to 73 prisons in seven provinces, namely Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Lampung, East Java, Bali and South Sulawesi and to pesantren (Islamic boarding schools). Similar distribution will also be carried out in West Papua, West Sumatera, and South Kalimantan provinces in the following weeks.
Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, ICRC and PMI organized free cataract operations in the remote areas of Papua since 2006. The humanitarian organization also carried out regular dissemination sessions co-organized with the TNI and POLRI for their personnel in Papua.