Accessibility links

Breaking News

Food Shortages Hit South Sudan's Prisons

FILE - South Sudanese detainees and prisoners walk from the overcrowded Juba Central prison after they were released from the facility in Juba, South Sudan January 20, 2023. REUTERS/Jok Solomun

BOR — South Sudan’s prison service authorities said inmates at its facilities across the country are facing a food crisis after suppliers stopped delivering food due to lack of payment from the nation's Ministry of Finance.

The director of the South Sudan National Prison Service in Jonglei State, Brig. Gen. Bol Adoor, said about 400 inmates at the Bor Central Prison could starve due to lack of food.

"I am now at the Secretariat looking for food because the contractors are not paid and they will not deliver food to the prison. The food situation is desperate by the way," Adoor said.

Riing Awic, director of the prison service in Warrap State, called on the government should intervene to avoid food crisis.

"There is no food for inmates and this is because they have stopped bringing the food because they have not been paid. We are now trying to talk to the state governor to help us with food to feed the inmates while we wait for the contractors to come with food," Awic said.

Maj. Gen. Tongun Tombe, the spokesperson of the South Sudan prison service cautioned inmates at the prison facilities across the country could face food crisis.

"As we are speaking the contractors are going seven or eight months without getting their money, so it becomes an issue because if you are not paid and you supply for example the Juba Central Prison which houses about 3,000 inmates, imagine the food for 3,000 inmates in a day, how much does it cost?," Tomba said, "it’s huge money. And if you continue to feed them for 7 months and you are not getting money then the work becomes a little bit a challenge," he added.

Tombe said that the prison service has written to the minister of Interior about the looming food crisis at prisons.

"We have to report to the minister of interior –that the contractors have not been paid. The minister of interior will pick up from our writings and may be together with our authority and consult the minister of finance. Because it’s a human right issue," he said.

Brig. Gen. Daniel Justin, spokesperson of the South Sudan National Police Service and the Ministry of Interior, said documents for food payment have been submitted to the finance ministry. He said the finance ministry delayed payments adding the interior ministry officials are following up on the matter.

"What I know so far is that the documents are in the ministry finance—so the issue is how to pay them. They are waiting for payment but because it has taken some time that is why the contractors decided to stop until they are paid something," Justin said.

He said the officials from the ministry of interior are working to ensure that the payments are processed on time to avoid food crisis at prisons.

Ministry of Finance spokesperson Tek Stephen told VOA he not aware of communications from prison officials.

“I have no information about that yet. Unless I inquire from the office. I didn’t come across that," Stephen said.