As Muslims around the world usher in the holy month of Ramadan, detainees in Somalia will also be able to join in the spirit of the occasion. Close to 4,000 detainees across 12 places of detention across the country received food for traditional iftar menu, including goats, dates, lentils, milk, sugar, a mix of spices, cooking oil, tomato paste and tea leaves.
“It is the holiest month of the 12. We thank God and we are excited about the arrival of the month [Ramadan]. It’s a month we have been waiting for,” said a detainee in Baidoa Central Prison, one of the 12 detention facilities, where the items were distributed.
The Ramadan distribution by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has become an annual event. The ICRC regularly visit places of detention in Somalia to monitor treatment and living conditions.
“Our work is to ensure detainees are treated humanely. Their rights and dignity maintained. We are distributing the items not only in Baidoa Central Prison but also other places of detention that we visit in Somalia,” said Mohamed Liban, ICRC’s Protection Officer in the region, overseeing the distribution at the Baidoa Central Prison.
The ICRC has been helping detainees since 1870, traditionally focusing on people held in connection with armed conflict and other situations of violence. Today, the organization visits detainees in over 90 countries and territories around the world. In Somalia, it started visiting detention facilities in 1977 during the Ogaden war. In 2022, the organization visited almost 4,000 detainees in 10 places of detention across the country to assess living conditions and treatment.
The ICRC works with the authorities to ensure families of detainees are informed of their loved ones’ whereabouts and can contact and visit them. Last year, it transmitted 159 family news messages to families of detainees by phone. At the same time, four detention centres received medical equipment and medicine, while two detainees suffering from malnutrition received treatment.
This year’s holy month of Ramadan comes at a time when Somalia is in the throes of one of the worst droughts. With sixth consecutive failed rainy season looming, food and fuel prices soar, making three-meals-a-day an unattainable luxury for millions of Somalis. In these circumstances the nutrition situation in prisons has become particularly concerning.
Ramadan Distribution Figures
Total number of detainees – 3,910
Places of detention – 12
Number of goats – 1,298
Dates – 4,609kg
Lentils – 4,760kg
Dry skimmed milk powder – 4,609kg
Sugar – 4,750kgSpices – 4,599kg
Tomato paste – 925kg
Cooking oil – 4,670 litres
Tea leaves – 4,599
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC).