ICRC said they have been providing food supplies to 17 detention places in Zimbabwe but denied getting into the exact details saying they regard their partnership with prison authorities in a confidential manner.
Head of communication for the ICRC regional headquarters, Tendayi Sengwe told Radio VOP that for the past two years the humanitarian organisation has been supplying beans, cooking oil and groundnuts for more than 8000 inmates in the country’s prisons across the country.
“For more than two years, the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has been regularly supplying beans, cooking oil and groundnuts for more than 8,000 inmates in 17 places of detention around Zimbabwe, including Harare Remand Prison and Chikurubi Maximum Security Prison. The ICRC also provides assistance and technical support to the Zimbabwe Prison Service to boost food production at prison farms, upgrade water and sanitation facilities, monitor the nutrition of inmates and improve access to healthcare services,” Sengwe said.
Sengwe could not confirm a stroy carried by Radio VOP on Wednesday that part of the cooking oil they donated were allegedly stolen by two prison officials but reiterated that the ICRC was not the source of the information.
“The ICRC is not the source of this information. We are not in a position to confirm or deny these allegations. In line with the ICRC’s worldwide approach to visits to places of detention, the organisation shares any concerns about treatment and conditions of detention with the prison authorities in a confidential, bilateral dialogue,” Sengwe said.
The ICRC regional office in Harare monitors the humanitarian situation in Malawi, Namibia,Zambia and Zimbabwe. The ICRC which is based in Geneva, Switzerland was established in 1863, and has many offices across the globe mainly to provide provide humanitarian assistance to people in affected by “conflict and armed violence and to promote the laws that protect victims of war.”
In Zimbabwe apart from assisting detained prisoners with food, the ICRC has been embarking in projects that include helping communities with clean water, health care and providing inputs for small scale farmers for subsistence farming. The international humanitarian organisation has also been lecturing on international humanitarian law to Zimbabwe’s uniformed forces.
“Throughout 2009, the ICRC has assisted the Zimbabwe Defence Forces in improving knowledge of, and respect for international humanitarian law (IHL). Between January and September, the ICRC gave presentations on basic IHL to over 500 officers and soldiers of the Zimbabwe National Army at its training institutions in Bulawayo, Gweru, Harare and Nyanga.
The presentations also emphasized modern military commanders’ responsibility to comply with IHL,” the ICRC said.