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Jakarta Post

Korea, Red Cross help curb spread of COVID-19 in Indonesian prisons

  • News Desk

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, October 8, 2020   /   09:42 am
Korea, Red Cross help curb spread of COVID-19 in Indonesian prisons A PMI officer sprays disinfectant liquid at the door of the Cipinang Class 1 Correctional Institution in Jakarta on March 20 to contain the spread of COVID-19. (Antara/Galih Pradipta)

The Korea International Cooperation Agency (KOICA) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) sign a memorandum of understanding (MoU) on Wednesday to help Indonesia check the spread of COVID-19 at correctional facilities and mitigate the effects of the pandemic.

The KOICA provided US$200,000 to the ICRC’s regional delegation to Indonesia and Timor-Leste. The funds are expected to enable the ICRC to expand its program and technical support to 67 prisons in six provinces that accommodate more than 57,600 inmates.

“When we found out about the ICRC’s program that might be difficult for other organizations to undertake, we – at the KOICA – decided to extend our support for them,” Hoejin Jeong, the KOICA country director in Indonesia, said in a joint statement on Wednesday.

“On behalf of the Korean people, we are glad to offer support to help mitigate the spread of the disease in correctional facilities in close cooperation with the ICRC. Despite prolonged difficulties caused by the disease, we wish the Indonesian people well and ask them not to lose hope and to unite to get through this,” he added.

Alexandre Faite, head of the ICRC regional delegation for Indonesia and Timor-Leste, said they were privileged to partner with the Directorate General of Correctional Institutions.

“The ICRC is working closely with prison authorities to minimize the spread of COVID-19 in detention places not only in Indonesia, but in more than 50 countries worldwide,” he said.

Read also: S. Korea, UN launch $18 m solar project in remote parts of Indonesia, Timor-Leste

He expressed his highest appreciation for the KOICA’s first-ever funding received by the ICRC worldwide.

“This will allow us to step up our efforts in reaching out to more prisons by way of increased distribution of aid and provision of technical support to prison authorities,” Faite added.

In response to the pandemic, the ICRC delegation in Jakarta had earlier distributed hygiene supplies to 73 prisons in the seven provinces of Jakarta, Banten, West Java, Lampung, East Java, Bali and South Sulawesi as well as at some Islamic boarding schools.

The humanitarian organization also engaged with religious circles online in an effort to spread accurate and credible health and hygiene information as well as key information on dignified and safe burial procedures, the statement says.

Moreover, the ICRC has adapted its programs to support national authorities in their efforts to fight the pandemic, including technical and material support for handling the bodies of deceased patients and ambulance services in close cooperation with the Indonesian Red Cross (PMI).

On its part, the KOICA earlier launched the “ABC Program”, or the “Agenda for Building resilience against COVID-19 through development cooperation”, as part of its COVID-19 response. 

In April, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly granted more than 5,500 prisoners early release to help prevent a possible surge in coronavirus infections at Indonesia’s overcrowded prisons.

Only 136 of a total 525 correctional institutions in Indonesia are not overcrowded, according to Directorate General of Correctional Institutions data from September. The database shows that 234,728 inmates are held in prisons throughout the country.

 

Editor’s note: This article is part of a public campaign by the COVID-19 task force (Satgas COVID-19) to raise people’s awareness about the pandemic.