Left Menu
Development News Edition

Malnutrition stalks Congo's overcrowded prisons

The jail's director said malnutrition contributed to his demise, because he did not have visitors to bring in meals to feed him. The teenager is one of dozens of inmates to die this year in the main prison in Bunia, in northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where, like the rest of the country, conditions are overcrowded and there is not enough food to go around.

Reuters | Updated: 12-10-2020 13:42 IST | Created: 12-10-2020 13:30 IST
Malnutrition stalks Congo's overcrowded prisons
Representative Image Image Credit:

Friends of 18-year-old Muno Lembissa said he died in prison from sorrow. The jail's director said malnutrition contributed to his demise because he did not have visitors to bring in meals to feed him.

The teenager is one of the dozens of inmates to die this year in the main prison in Bunia, in the northeastern Democratic Republic of Congo, where, like the rest of the country, conditions are overcrowded and there is not enough food to go around. Lembissa had been convicted of rape and sentenced to a year in jail.

"The sentence really upset him and as a consequence, he started to lose weight," said David Ilopa, Lembissa's friend and a fellow inmate. "The worry and the hunger were hurting him," said another inmate, Detsuvi Elie.

Authorities monitored the Reuters interviews with both men, and it was not clear whether they felt able to speak freely about conditions in the jail. But Camille Nzonzi Mokonyo, director of Bunia Central Prison, conceded that the lack of food was a factor.

"It wasn't only the punishment that tormented him, but also the malnutrition which led to his death," he told Reuters. "People who don't have visitors only eat what is available at the prison." Built to house around 250 inmates, the grey concrete walls of the jail hold more than five times that number.

Meals are budgeted according to a prison's capacity rather than its population, so detainees like Lembissa, who have no family nearby to bring them food, rarely get more than one meal a day and have to rely on outside help. "It is an undeniable fact that there is a need to put a better effort into the management of prisons in our country," said Congo's human rights minister Andre Lite.

More than 50 prisoners have died of malnutrition at Bunia Central Prison since the start of 2020, according to the United Nations. "Malnutrition is rife in prisons across Congo," said Thomas Fessy from Human Rights Watch. "If it wasn't for aid coming from local aid groups and charities and churches, most detainees wouldn't be fed at present."


TRENDING

OPINION / BLOG / INTERVIEW

Turbulence surrounding tobacco control in Ghana

... ...

Refugee compassion and response: Ideas to mitigate disasters now and in their future

Their homeland becomes a forbidden territory for them and more likely than not, their journey to foreign soil is no less traumatizing, not to say deadly. It is crucial to help refugees live a life of dignity and purpose....

Inadequate water infrastructure causes a tidal wave of coronavirus in rural Alaska

... ...

Videos

Latest News

Deep depression over Bay of Bengal now cyclonic storm 'Burevi'

The deep depression over southwest Bay of Bengal intensified into cyclonic storm Burevi on Tuesday and it is very likely to intensify further and cross the Sri Lankan coast on December 2, the India Meteorological Department said. After maki...

French rescuers rig crate to help obese man stuck in home

French rescuers had to go to extremes to evacuate a man suffering from morbid obesity from his flat on Tuesday, after he was immobilised in his home following an accident last year. Some 50 rescuers and a crane were used in the operation in...

France to 'deter' skiers searching for resorts still open abroad

France will put restrictions on people travelling abroad to find ski resorts not subject to COVID-19 shutdowns this Christmas, French President Emmanuel Macron said on Tuesday. If there are countries, within or outside the EU, that keep the...

Govt drops proposal to bring Old Goa under planning authority

Facing stiff protests from churches and the Opposition, the BJP government in Goa on Tuesday scrapped a proposal seeking inclusion of Old Goa panchayat area into the Greater Panaji Planning and Development Authority GPPDA. Issuing a stateme...

Give Feedback