Colombo: The International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) is concluding its latest round of emergency distributions of hygiene and health-related items in places of detention in Sri Lanka. It is supporting the prison authorities in the distribution of reusable masks, PPE kits, chlorine, soap and other hygiene items for the use of inmates and personnel of prisons, police stations and an immigration center.

“People who are detained are likely to be more vulnerable during a medical emergency of this scale. We adapted our activities at the start of the pandemic and we are in coordination with prison authorities ever since”, said the head of the ICRC delegation in Sri Lanka, Loukas Petridis. “We are committed to continue supporting the detaining authorities to ensure humane conditions and dignified treatment to all detainees in such challenging times”, concluded Loukas Petridis.

The ICRC also donated fabric and accessories to the Department of Prisons to produce reusable masks for detainees. Over 30,000 reusable masks have been produced so far, out of the 40,000 planned in total. In the coming weeks, the ICRC delegation will also support a pilot project for online phone calls for detainees. The calls will allow detainees to maintain contact with their loved ones, amidst the administrative restrictions that have been put into place.

Since March 2020, the ICRC, in coordination with the Ministry of Health, supported the efforts of the Sri Lankan detaining authorities to reduce the risk of COVID-19 spreading amongst the detainee population. It has provided health and hygiene items and disinfection material that has benefited almost 33,000 people in over 23 prisons, a prison hospital, five police stations and the Mirihana Immigration Detention Centre.

The ICRC has been visiting detainees in Sri Lanka since 1989. Worldwide, detainees are at the center of the ICRC’s humanitarian action and addressing their needs and concerns remains a key priority.

Key facts & figures since March 2020

Over 30000 beneficiaries in 23 prisons island-wide were supported with 74100 bars of body soap and laundry soap, 18500 toothbrushes and 16000 toothpastes, 9650 razors, 1755 mats and 1800 sanitary pads. 1.550 Kg of Chlorine and cleaning items for disinfection were distributed. PPE of 36950 surgical masks, 5750 FFP2 masks, 18000 gowns, 18000 surgical caps, 1560 face shields, 41400 gloves, 172 goggles were distributed, mainly to prison health staff, and 5000 re-usable masks were provided to other administrative personnel.

Over 250 beneficiaries in five police stations in Colombo, Tangalle and Vavuniya were supported with chlorine, 1000 bars of body soap and laundry soap, 595 each of toothbrushes & toothpaste, 740 surgical masks, 185 mats, 20 sanitary pads and cleaning products.

Hundred beneficiaries at the Immigration Detention Centre in Colombo were provided 40 liters of chlorine, 10 sanitizers, 470 bars of body soap and laundry soap, 170 each of toothpaste & toothbrushes, 20 mosquito nets and 250 surgical masks.

Sixty-six chief jailors and jailors from the Department of Prisons participated in a training on prison standards.

For further information, please contact:
Sarasi Wijeratne, ICRC Colombo, tel.: +94 11 250 33 46 or + 94 773158844
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