More than 50 prisoners starve to death in east Congo prison

Country’s jails are among the world’s most overcrowded, as per UN

More than 50 prisoners starve to death in east Congo prison

Photo for representation

Beni, Democratic Republic of Congo, September 15

Fifty-two inmates at a prison in the northeastern Congo city of Bunia have starved to death this year because of insufficient government funding, the United Nations and local authorities said.

The Democratic Republic of Congo’s jails are among the world’s most overcrowded, according to the UN, with inmates living in squalid conditions on meagre rations. The Bunia prison operates at nearly 500% of capacity, UN figures show.

“This situation is really worrying,” said Bunia mayor Ferdinand Fimbo, blaming sporadic government support for malnutrition in the prison.

President Felix Tshisekdei told his cabinet this month he would personally ensure prisons across the country did not run out of food or medicine.

But the head of the Bunia prison, Camille Zonzi, was quoted in a report by the UN peacekeeping force in Congo as saying that the government had still only promised at a meeting last week to cover three months of the prison’s expenses.

Malnutrition is common in Congolese jails because food portions are allotted based on facilities’ nominal capacity, rather than their real populations, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW).

Since January, prison administrations across the country have had to buy food and essential supplies on credit, said Thomas Fessy, HRW’s Congo researcher.

“This tragedy could have been prevented,” Fessy said. “More detainees will die if the government does not act and prisons do not receive vital assistance.”

On September 4, around 100 heavily-armed rebel fighters from an ethnic militia entered Bunia and temporarily surrounded the prison, demanding the release of their comrades, but Fimbo said their demands had nothing to do with the food situation. Reuters

Top Stories

India, US ink military pact, set stage for expanding collaboration

India, US ink military pact, set stage for expanding collaboration

Trade, people-to-people ties remain in limbo; more tie-ups i...

Govt paves way for all Indians to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir

Govt paves way for all Indians to buy land in Jammu and Kashmir

Union Home Ministry repeals 12 laws enacted by the erstwhile...

India declares 18 Pakistan-based individuals as designated terrorists under UAPA

India declares 18 Pakistan-based individuals as designated terrorists under UAPA

The list issued by the MHA has names of Chhota Shakeel, Bhat...

Facebook India’s Ankhi Das steps down to pursue 'public service'

Facebook India’s Ankhi Das steps down to pursue 'public service'

Comes two months after allegations that she stopped company ...

Cities

View All