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24-03-2023 | Latest News , Africa

Somalia: Prisoners receive food for Ramadan

As Muslims around the world usher in the holy month of Ramadan, detainees in Somalia will also be able to join in the spirit of the occasion. Close to 4,000 detainees across 12 places of detention across the country received food for traditional iftar menu, including goats, dates, lentils, milk, sugar, a mix of spices, cooking oil, tomato paste and tea leaves.  

“It is the holiest month of the 12. We thank God and we are excited about the arrival of the month [Ramadan]. It's a month we have been waiting for,” said a detainee in Baidoa Central Prison, one of the 12 detention facilities, where the items were distributed.

The Ramadan distribution by the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) has become an annual event. The ICRC regularly visit places of detention in Somalia to monitor treatment and living conditions.

“Our work is to ensure detainees are treated humanely. Their rights and dignity maintained. We are distributing the items not only in Baidoa Central Prison but also other places of detention that we visit in Somalia,” said Mohamed Liban, ICRC’s Protection Officer in the region, overseeing the distribution at the Baidoa Central Prison.

The ICRC has been helping detainees since 1870, traditionally focusing on people held in connection with armed conflict and other situations of violence. Today, the organization visits detainees in over 90 countries and territories around the world. In Somalia, it started visiting detention facilities in 1977 during the Ogaden war. In 2022, the organization visited almost 4,000 detainees in 10 places of detention across the country to assess living conditions and treatment.

The ICRC works with the authorities to ensure families of detainees are informed of their loved ones' whereabouts and can contact and visit them. Last year, it transmitted 159 family news messages to families of detainees by phone. At the same time, four detention centres received medical equipment and medicine, while two detainees suffering from malnutrition received treatment.

This year’s holy month of Ramadan comes at a time when Somalia is in the throes of one of the worst droughts. With sixth consecutive failed rainy season looming, food and fuel prices soar, making three-meals-a-day an unattainable luxury for millions of Somalis. In these circumstances the nutrition situation in prisons has become particularly concerning.

Ramadan Distribution Figures

Total number of detainees - 3,910

Places of detention - 12

Number of goats - 1,298

Dates - 4,609kg

Lentils - 4,760kg

Dry skimmed milk powder - 4,609kg

Sugar - 4,750kg

Spices - 4,599kg

Tomato paste - 925kg

Cooking oil - 4,670 litres

Tea leaves - 4,599

For further information, please contact:

Alyona Synenko, ICRC Nairobi, +254 716 897 265,

Abdikarim Mohamed, ICRC Somalia, +254 770 171 756,


Location: Mogadishu, Somalia and Baidoa, Somalia

Language: English, Somali

Length: 8’ 14’’

Format: mp4, h.264

Producer: Anisa Hussein

Camera: Abdikarim Mohamed

Editor: Abdikarim Mohamed

Filming date: 22nd March 2023

Copyright: ICRC access all

Shot list

Time Codes

00:00 - 00:09: Detainees in Baidoa Central Prison during their outdoor time.

00:09 - 00:38: Detainees inside a cell in Baidoa listen to a sermon on radio.

00:38 - 00:55: A detainee reading the Quran.

00:55 - 01:07: Close-up of detainee reading the Quran.

01:07 - 01:19: Inmate in Baidoa Central Prison reads the Quran in the cell.

01:19 - 01:34: Prisoners inside their cell chat while others read the Quran.

01:34 - 01:48: Detainees play dominos.

01:48 - 02:04: Overhead shot of prisoners playing dominos.

02:04 - 02:18: Close-up of dominos.

02:18 - 02:28: Detainees watch a screen inside one of the cells in Baidoa Central Prison.

02:28 - 02:39: Soundbite (Detainee): It is the holiest month of the 12.

02:40 - 02:47:  We thank God and we are excited about the arrival of the month [Ramadan].

02:47 - 02:50:  It's a month we have been waiting for.

02:50 - 02:57: As Muslims, they don't miss their five prayers a day.

02:57 - 03:06: During Ramadan, even though they are inmates, they have the right to observe the fast like people outside who are free.

03:06 - 03:10: And also, as detainees they practice their religion.

03:11 - 03:40: Goats being herded inside the prison compound.

03:40 - 04:18: ICRC team offload items off a truck outside the prison.

04:18 - 04:33: Distribution items placed inside the prison.

04:33 -  04:54: Items stacked inside prison.

04:54 - 05:10: Prison staff checks items delivered to the facility.

05:10 - 05:35: ICRC logistics staff checks the items delivered with a prison staffer.

05:35 - 05:37: Soundbite (Mohamed Liban – ICRC Protection Officer) Today we are in Baidoa Central Prison.

05:38 - 05:42: We are distributing some items for the month of Ramadan.

05:42 - 05:48: The items include goats, dates, milk and other foodstuffs intended for use during Ramadan.

05:49 - 05:53: It's not our first visit to the prison, we regularly visit.

05:54 - 05:58: Our work is to ensure detainees are treated humanely.

05:59 - 06:01: Their rights and dignity maintained.

06:01 - 06:08: We are distributing the items not only in Baidoa Central Prison but also other places of detention that we visit in Somalia.

06:09 - 06:21: ICRC's Mohamed Abdirashid chats with detainees.

06:21 - 06:32: ICRC Protection Officer, Mohamed Liban, talking to inmates.

06:32 - 07:02: Inmates of Baidoa Central Prison moving in and out of their cells.

07:02 - 07:14: ICRC staff show the Baidoa Prison Commander the items delivered.

07:14- 07:21: Detainees take ablution inside Baidoa Central Prison.

07:21 - 07:34: Inmate taking ablution.

07:34 - 07:46: Inmate washing his feet as part of the ablution before prayer.

07:46 - 07:59: Inmates praying inside their cell.

07:59 - 08:14: Soundbite (Mohamed Liban – ICRC Protection Officer) We are distributing the foodstuffs to detainees, so they feel part of the joy of Ramadan like people outside do during the fast.


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