ICRC to rehabilitate prisons

The International Committee of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies plans to scale up support for Zimbabwe's prison services next year, pledging to continue an ongoing food assistance programme and to rehabilitate the collapsing infrastructure at some of the country's prisons.

The ICRC has, since 2009, provided food assistance to prison inmates and supported programmes to improve food security in detention places.

Outgoing head of the ICRC delegation in Zimbabwe, Thomas Merkelbach, said a joint steering committee comprising officials from the ICRC and the Zimbabwe Red Cross Society was closely monitoring the handover process of food assistance to ensure that the welfare of the inmates was not compromised.

"If necessary, the committee can make appropriate adjustments. However, capacity-building activities in the area of food production, and the rehabilitation of critical infrastructure and ICRC support for prison health services will continue in 2012," said Merkelbach.

According to local prisoner's rights group, Zimbabwe Association for Crime Prevention and Rehabilitation of the Offender, at least two inmates die every day due to hunger and disease at Chikurubi Prison and Harare Central Prison – the country's two biggest jails.

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