Congo: Fifty-two people at a prison in the northeastern Congo city of Bunia have starved to death this year because of insufficient government funding.
The Democratic Republic of Congo’s jails are among the world’s most overcrowded, with people living in obscured conditions on meager rations. The Bunia prison operates at nearly 500% of capacity, U.N. figures show. “This situation is really worrying,” said Bunia mayor, blaming sporadic government support for malnutrition in the prison.
The head of the Bunia prison, was quoted in a report by the U.N. peacekeeping force in Congo as saying that the government had still only promised at a meeting last week to cover three months of the prison’s expenses.
Malnutrition is common in Congolese jails because food portions are allotted based on facilities’ nominal capacity, rather than their real populations, according to New York-based Human Rights Watch. Since January, prison administrations across the country have had to buy food and essential supplies on credit. “This tragedy could have been prevented,” an official said. “More detainees will die if the government does not act and prisons do not receive vital assistance.”