Sri Lanka: ICRC continues to support prison authorities to combat COVID-19
Colombo — The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concluding its latest round of emergency distributions of hygiene and health-related items in places of detention. The distributions included reusable masks, PPE kits, chlorine, soap and other hygiene items for the use of inmates and personnel of prisons, police stations and an immigration centre.
"People who are detained are likely to be more vulnerable during a medical emergency of this scale. We adapted our activities at the start of the pandemic and we are in coordination with prison authorities ever since", said the Head of the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka, Loukas Petridis. "We are committed to continue supporting the detaining authorities to ensure humane conditions and dignified treatment to all detainees in such challenging times", concluded Loukas Petridis.
The ICRC also donated fabric and accessories to the Department of Prisons to produce reusable masks for detainees. Over 30,000 reusable masks have been produced so far, out of the 40,000 planned in total.
In the coming weeks, the ICRC delegation will also support a pilot project for online phone calls for detainees. The calls will allow detainees to maintain contact with their loved ones, amidst the administrative restrictions that have been put into place.
Since March 2020, the ICRC, in coordination with the Ministry of Health, supported the efforts of the Sri Lankan detaining authorities to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading amongst the detainee population. It has provided health and hygiene items and disinfection material that has benefited almost 33,000 people in over 23 prisons, a prison hospital, five police stations and the Mirihana Immigration Detention Centre.
The ICRC has been visiting detainees in Sri Lanka since 1989. Worldwide, detainees are at the centre of the ICRC's humanitarian action and addressing their needs and concerns remains a key priority.