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Zimbabwe: ICRC maintains support for prisons

15-02-2011 News Release 11/34

Harare/Geneva (ICRC) – The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said today that it would help the Zimbabwean authorities to gradually take over full responsibility for meeting the nutritional needs of 8,000 inmates to whom it has been distributing food since April 2009.

"The direct food aid we have been providing in prisons for almost two years was an emergency measure taken in response to a situation in which malnutrition had reached critical levels. An assessment undertaken jointly with the authorities established that the Zimbabwe Prison Service is now far more capable of meeting the dietary needs of inmates," said Thomas Merkelbach, head of the ICRC's regional delegation in Harare. "During the handover period, which will last until 2012, the ICRC will closely monitor the situation. Together with the authorities, it will ensure that an appropriate diet for detainees is maintained."

As a framework for the handover, a memorandum of understanding between the ICRC and the Ministry of Justice will be signed today in Harare.

Throughout 2010, the ICRC supplied beans, groundnuts and oil for over 65 per cent of the people held in 17 of the largest prisons in Zimbabwe. It also helped the detaining authorities enhance their ability to monitor the nutritional status of inmates, improve management of the food supply chain and boost production on prison farms.

In addition, the ICRC upgraded prison cooking and sanitary facilities and helped improve health-care and legal services provided for detainees. It will continue to conduct activities of these kinds in 2011.

For further information, please contact:
Tendayi Sengwe, ICRC Harare, tel: +263 772 240960
Olga Miltcheva, ICRC Geneva, tel: +41 79 5369 232