A prison in Papua New Guinea, that was facing food shortages, reportedly released more than a dozen of its prisoners so they could look for food to feed themselves.
Prison authorities at Boram Prison in East Sepik, Papua New Guinea released thirty-five inmates so they could gather food for the prison. The prison holds approximately 290 men and most of them are awaiting court cases.
Inspector Joe Imini, prison administration manager, said the government had lately been slow in releasing funds for monthly prison rations which resulted in food shortages. He added the situation was going uncontrollable which is why some of the prisoners were released to collect food.
The severe food shortages occurred because in April, the government authorities reduced prison food funds to $7,000 from $18,000.
“If we are given rations (from headquarters) at the beginning of each month, we won’t be facing the (food shortage) problem. Given the size of our population, that [$7,000] is not enough. Payment is not forthcoming. We are living on credit. Pressure is mounting. They were hungry. So we chose 35 of them to go out. All but one came back,” said Imini.
Out of the released prisoners, all returned back to the prison facility. However, one juvenile is still out of the jail and is yet to return.
In regard of the situation, Correctional Services’ executive officer Inspector Richard Mandui said although late, the funds had now been released and the situation was under control. However, Imini said the payment was for the month of April and the facility is still facing food shortages.
Malnutrition is a persistent problem in the island country. UNICEF has termed the problem as a “silent emergency” and stated a major number of deaths of children under the age of five occur because of malnutrition.
“Malnutrition cannot be addressed only by the health sector. This is an obligation for all concerned sectors to allocate resources to their respective nutrition sector interventions. It is essential to put in place the necessary conditions to detect and treat severe malnutrition cases as quickly as possible,” said the Assistant Secretary to the United Nations and UNICEF Deputy Executive Director, Ms. Yoka Brandt
Spotlight, Banner: Reuters, Mohamed Abd El Ghany