As we reported back in February, one of the main activities of the ICRC in the United States is to conduct regular visits to the US detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, where we talk with the detainees, monitor their conditions and treatment, and enable them to be in contact with their families. We also meet with the authorities and convey any humanitarian concerns we might have to them directly and bilaterally. But, despite all the media attention it gets, Guantanamo is just one of hundreds of detention facilities the ICRC visits each year. In fact, did you know that ICRC delegates visit more than half a million detainees in around 100 countries annually? It's an extremely important aspect of our work but one that we seldom get to show to the outside world because our observations are confidential and cameras aren't often allowed behind bars. That's why we wanted to flag this video, which was produced by our colleagues in Geneva and features an ICRC team touring the Suleymanieh Central Prison in northern Iraq. It offers rare insight into what an ICRC prison visit is like, and what we hope to achieve in the process. You might also be interested in reading about ICRC President, Peter Maurer's, recent trip to Iraq, where he met families affected by intense fighting in Al-Anbar province. And, in case you missed it, here's the gallery of pictures we put on Facebook from our 100th visit to Guantanamo. (It's the first-time ever that we've photographed one of our visits there.)
In this film, we follow ICRC staff as they visit Suleymanieh Central Prison in Northern Iraq and explain the nature of their work. The ICRC has been working in places of detention in Iraq since 1980. In 2013, it visited nearly 40,000 people in 74 places of detention to monitor their treatment and living conditions. ICRC delegates visiting prisons in Iraq work closely with the authorities to improve life for detainees, from ensuring judicial guarantees are respected to reconnecting detainees with their family on the outside.