Page last updated at 09:42 GMT, Tuesday, 22 July 2008 10:42 UK

Congo prisoners 'starve to death'

Prisoners at Mbuji Mayi central prison in Kasaļ Oriental province UN photo
The UN says there is acute malnutrition at the prison

The United Nations says it is alarmed by the number of deaths in a prison in the Democratic Republic of Congo.

At least 26 inmates have died from acute malnutrition at the main prison in the city of Mbuji Mayi in Kasai Oriental province since February.

Four inmates died of hunger last week alone. The UN says it is particularly concerned because no measures are being taken to improve living conditions.

It says many of the inmates have not yet been convicted of any crime.

The UN is providing water to the prison on a weekly basis.

Staff from the UN Mission in DR Congo, Monuc, investigating the deaths found more than 20 prisoners on the verge of death in the prison, which houses 425 prisoners in a facility originally designed for 200.

"Monuc expressed deep dissatisfaction to the provincial authorities on the living conditions of the prisoners," said UN spokesman Assiongbon Tettekpoe.

Monuc has suggested instituting a specific food and health-care budget for the prisoners.


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