ICRC response to riots in Roumieh Prison

APRIL 24, 2015 (REFERRING TO THE NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON) The ICRC has delivered vital aid to Beirut’s Roumieh Central Prison, after recent riots caused severe damage to Block D of the facility and left hundreds of detainees without clothing, bedding and drinking water.

“Block D was already largely overcrowded, placing a lot of strain not only on the detainees but also on the prison staff. The damage made conditions much worse and urgent arrangements were needed,” said Mathilde de Riedmatten who heads the ICRC’s activities in prisons in Lebanon. “Immediately after the riots, we offered our services to the prison authorities and they accepted.”

Over the last days, the ICRC brought over a thousand liters of drinking water, more than five hundred mattresses and two hundred clothing kits to Roumieh. Essential hygiene kits and soaps were also delivered. Seven water filters will also be installed in the prison to improve the quality of the drinking water.

“After the riots, it is ever more important to make sure that detainees are in contact with their families,” de Riedmatten added. “We maintain this contact through exchanging written or verbal messages between the detainees and their relatives. We also encourage the authorities to allow family visits for all detainees.”

The ICRC has been visiting Roumieh Prison on a regular basis since 2007 after signing an agreement with the government. It also visits other prisons across Lebanon and maintains a continuous and constructive dialogue with the authorities to improve detention conditions and prison services. Since last year, the ICRC has carried out more than 200 prison visits and facilitated the exchange of 2,500 personal messages between detainees and their families.

SOURCE: NATIONAL NEWS AGENCY – LEBANON