Meat and dates! Prisoners usher in Ramadan

Food distribution at Hargeisa Priosn.

Detainees in Hargeisa and Mandera prisons will be able to mark the holy month of Ramadan with an assorted menu. One consisting of dates, a tradition for Muslims observing the fast, and goat meat. These are part of food items distributed to the facilities by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) for detainees to mark the occasion together with the rest of the Muslim community. Other items distributed to both places of detention include lentils, oil, tea, milk and sugar.

“It’s not every day you see more than 100 goats in a prison facility. There’s a certain buzz among the detainees and the authorities about this year’s Ramadan.” said Yussuf Arte, head of the ICRC office in Hargeisa.

The ICRC visits prisons and other places of detention in countries around the world in a bid to secure humane and dignified treatment for those deprived of freedom. The visits are a historic part of the ICRC work and date back to WWI where internment camps were visited with a view to improve conditions.

“Ramadan is significant for all Muslims and it’s an opportunity for all of us to remember that this period is just as important to the detainees,” said Anike Doherty, ICRC’s Protection Coordinator. “We hope this gesture will help them observe the fast with dignity.”

This is the second Ramadan that falls in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic and a huge part of the ICRC’s efforts have been to try and keep the virus away from places of detention. Several handwashing stations have been set up in the facilities while detainees and staff have also been informed on measures they can take to prevent the spread of the disease.

Despite the travel restrictions due to the pandemic, ICRC teams visited both the Hargeisa Central Prison and Madera prison between January and March this year.


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