UNMISS opens new Northern Bahr El Gazal prison
The United Nations Mission in South Sudan (UNMISS) has announced the completion of a new secure prison facility in Aweil East county, Northern Bahr El Ghazal.
Until the construction of the new building, the prison reportedly mainly consisted of grass huts, which could house a maximum of 50 inmates. Despite this, the number of prisoners currently exceeds 175, leaving many exposed to the elements for weeks on end.
The new prison has been constructed according to the United Nations' standards for holding persons in custody. It is large, well ventilated, and affords prisoners adequate privacy.
'When I toured the building and saw the way it’s designed, I was immensely relieved. All cell blocks have self-contained toilets, and we now have separate prison wings for male and female offenders. This is a massive step forward in enabling us, as prison officers, to treat inmates humanely and uphold their dignity', commented Aweil East county commissioner Kiir Yor.
The newly constructed building took only three months to complete at a cost of $50,000 USD.
The project was overseen by local partner Pan Aweil Developments. Despite the quick and effective completion, it was nonetheless a challenge.
'COVID-19 proved to be a spanner in the works; we had to make sure construction workers were safe, masked and physically distanced. Buying masks increased the cost while we had to reduce our labour force to comply with the pandemic mitigation measures. This slowed us down', said William Kolong, executive director of the implementing partner organization.
The new prison was facilitated under UNMISS' Quick Impact Projects programme, which uses local implementing partners to action small-scale, low-cost projects aimed at benefiting host communities.