Meheba (Zambia) : the camp custody overwhelmed

Meheba (Zambia) : the camp custody overwhelmed

Refugees detained in the Meheba camp in Zambia denounce poor detention conditions. The room that serves as a custody has no roof and is too narrow. It is overcrowded. INFO SOS Médias Burundi

The only custody in the camp is located on Road 36. At the moment, the prison population far exceeds its capacity.

“It’s a simple room of 4m by 3m. At the moment it may happen that it hosts more than 30 people, you hear that they are not sleeping. When it rains, the inmates are very unhappy because there is no roof. No toilet, we do all our needs inside, which makes the cell stink a lot. It is an unbearable situation”, say former inmates of this cell and relatives of the detainees.

Normally, the custody was set up to “correct two or three troublemakers”. No one should spend two days there, according to police sources. But as the offenses have become numerous and the camp has grown, the situation has changed, they add.

For the refugees, these explanations are not convincing.

“Rather, they keep people in jail to ask them for bribes. I myself know people who have just been imprisoned for attacks framed against them. There are policemen and civilian guards who take advantage of it, their names are known here in the camp and we are ready to denounce them”, indicates a Burundian refugee.

As a solution, refugees suggest that community leaders can help with dispute resolution to reduce the number of people likely to be imprisoned for petty crimes.

“These police officers should also carry out impartial investigations to release those who are illegally detained”, they recommend.

Finally, they ask the heads of the regional police to call to order the elements of the police assigned to the Meheba camp. For civilian guards, they should be replaced to build trust between them and the refugees, the latter say.

Meheba, a camp located in the Kalumbila district in northwestern Zambia, has more than 27,000 refugees, including more than 2,000 Burundians.

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