In Response to COVID-19 UNODC in Lebanon Acts to Protect the Most Vulnerable in Prisons

In response to the growing health concerns posed by COVID-19, the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) Regional Office for the Middle East and North Africa launched an awareness-raising campaign for the juvenile wing in Roumieh Prison, the Moubadara facility for girls and the Barbar Khazen Prison for women in Beirut.

The uncertainty of the extent of COVID-19 has provoked anxiety and fear, especially among prisoners who are in closed settings and are worried about their health and the health of their families, with an increased feeling of isolation. Moreover, with the suspension of rehabilitation activities that include group interaction, watching the TV remains the only means of distraction.

To address the unexpected Coronavirus outbreak in Lebanon, prison authorities adopted preventive measures to ensure the safety of the inmates at an early stage, such as suspending all service providers activities and reducing family visits to the prisons.

To further back the capacity of prison authorities to prevent and contain the spread of the virus, UNODC provided awareness-raising material on recommended standard hygiene practices in accordance with the guidance of the Ministry of Health (MoH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) with prison settings in mind.

Additionally, UNODC supported the prison with a comprehensive package of preventive and protective tools such as hygiene detergents, disinfectants, sanitizers, masks and gloves with a clear Standard Operating Procedure (SoP). Mobile SIM cards were made available for inmates to maintain contact with families. Such action has contributed to the reduction of anxiety and helped both authorities and inmates gain a sense of control over the virus spreading, especially with the clear instructions on how to protect themselves and practice good hygiene.