…Over 50 prisoners starve to death…
The United Nations stated that the Democratic Republic of Congo’s jails are among the world’s most overcrowded with inmates living in miserable conditions on meager rations.
Report has it that over 50 prisoners in the northeastern Congo city of Bunia have starved to death this year due to insufficient funding from the government.
The UN figures depicts that the Bunia prison operates at nearly 500% of capacity.
According to New York-based Human Rights Watch (HRW), ” Malnutrition is common in Congolese jails because food portions are allotted based on facilities’ nominal capacity, rather than their real populations.”
Thomas Fessy, HRW’s Congo researcher said Since January, prison administrations across the country have had to buy food and essential supplies on credit.
“This tragedy could have been prevented. More detainees will die if the government does not act and prisons do not receive vital assistance,” Fessy opined.
The mayor of Bunia, Ferdinand Fimbo blamed the malnutrition in the prison on the irregular support of the government. He said, “This situation is really worrying.”
President Felix Tshisekdei has however told his cabinet this month he would personally ensure regular supply of food and medicine to prisons across the country.
On the other hand, Camille Zonzi, the head of the Bunia prison was quoted in a report by the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo as saying, “the government had still only promised at a meeting last week to cover three months of the prison’s expenses.”
It should be recalled that on September 4, about 100 heavily armed rebel fighters from an ethnic militia invaded Bunia and surrounded the prison, demanding for the release of their comrades.