Good prison health is good public health: Responding to COVID-19 in Somalia's prisons

Photo: © UNODC

Somalia, 12 May 2020 - In a bid to support the Government of Somalia’s COVID-19 infection prevention and control (IPC) measures and encourage the rapid adoption of World Health Organization (WHO) recommendations, UNODC has provided key commodities and equipment to more than 700 prisoners and appointed personnel in five prisons and a court complex, with the generous support of the European Union and the Government of Sweden.

Arranged through UNODC’s Global Maritime Crime Programme (GMCP), the donation aims to decrease the risks of infection among personnel and prison populations at the Mogadishu Central Prison, Mogadishu Prison and Court Complex (MPCC), as well as Garowe, Kismayo, Baidoa and Beledweyn prisons. UNODC provided personal hygiene commodities for prisoners, including bars of soap, wall-mounted soap and sanitizer dispensers and refills, toothbrushes and toothpaste. Prisoners also received new blankets, mattresses, mats and kitchenware.  

COVID-19 has resulted in visit limitations, and to keep both staff and prisoners healthy, UNODC also provided sports equipment, literature and religious reading materials. 

In an effort to keep individual and common areas sanitized and COVID-19-free, UNODC also donated cleaning products and equipment. Commodities were also procured for the clinics and included basic wound dressing, antiseptic solutions and thermometers. 

Finally, occupational hazard being a priority for all prison administrations, UNODC supported the prison staff with COVID-19 prevention commodities, including medical respiratory masks (N95), disposable examination gloves, as well as and nitrile gloves for high risk areas and duties.  

From Baidoa Central prison, a prison hosting 127 inmates and 60 Custodial Corps, the UNODC Implementation Focal Point in Baidoa, Mr. Ahmed Ali, conveyed the sincere thanks of the Prison Administration. “The Prison Commander sends his sincere regards to those who facilitated this delivery. The generous contribution does improve the conditions in Somali prisons. The prisoners are very happy and making great use of these items,” he said.

In addition to the items provided, UNODC-GMCP also developed and shared guidelines for prison officers and management to cope with infectious diseases in places of detention in collaboration with the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the United Nations Office for Project Services (UNOPS) and the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). 


More information

UNODC Position Paper on COVID-19 Preparedness and Responses in Prison
Video (English): Viruses in Places of Detention
Video (Français): Les Virus dans les Centres de Détention
Originally published here