The Hunted Albinism Community of East and Southern Africa
People with albinism, a condition affecting body pigmentation and sunlight sensitivity, have faced ongoing persecution throughout East and Southern Africa, attacked and trafficked by those who believe their body parts hold magical powers. With albinism found to occur more frequently in certain African regions like East Africa than elsewhere in the world, the higher visibility has led to increased discrimination and prejudice. Children in particular have faced heightened vulnerability to kidnapping and violence, leading some families and governments to respond by segregating children with albinism into Temporary Holding Centers (THCs).
Recent years have seen increased attention to the insecurity of the albinism community in countries like Mozambique, Malawi, and Tanzania. Police have worked to crack down on kidnapping and murders while civil organizations have cropped up to provide education, resources, and support to the community. Nevertheless, ongoing black markets and trafficking networks have endangered the community in ways observers worry may be irreversible without aggressive government and community interventions.
“Mozambique: 50 arrested over albino murders” (StarAfrica, May 2016)
“Albino abductors get 25-year jail term” (Malawi 24, May 2016)
“In Malawi, people with albinism face ‘total extinction’– UN rights expert” (U.N. News Agency, April 2016)
Report on Investigative Mission on the Situation of Children with Albinism in Temporary Holding Shelters – Tanzania (African Committee of Experts on the Rights and Welfare of the Child, March 2016)
“The first Pan-African Albino Conference” (Global Disability Watch, January 2016)
“Mozambican albinos’ life in fear” (Deutsche Welle, November 2015)
Under the Same Sun
Albinism Society of Kenya
Albinism Society of South Africa
Zimbabwe Albino Association
(Image Credit: Christine Wambaa/OHCHR)
Kenya announces plans to close refugee camps, including world’s largest
- If carried out, the decision would impact hundreds of thousands of refugees (most Somali), including more than 300,000 at Dadaab, the largest refugee camp in the world.
- The government has cited national security concerns for the abandonment of a repatriation agreement with Somalia and the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, taking the initial step of disbanding the Department of Refugee Affairs and calling on the international community to support the transition.
- In the lead up to the announcement, the camps experienced major reductions in resources, including food and healthcare.
“Kenya Moves to Close Refugee Camps” (Voice of America)
“Kenya camp closures no surprise to refugees: ‘We’ve been crying out but no one heard’” (African Arguments)
“Closing camp will ‘worsen’ risk of terror” (The Star)
UNHCR Dadaab Portal
(Image Credit: UNHCR via Voice of America)
Kyrgyzstan Parliament blocks bill targeting foreign NGOs for increased government oversight
- The controversial bill, modeled after Russia’s, originally sought to have foreign-funded organizations labeled “foreign agents” and increase bureaucratic oversight of international NGOs, deterring their operation in the country.
- International or internationally funded NGOs in the country support public health and human rights development—particularly for vulnerable minorities—and serve as monitors of government corruption.
- The bill had been revised to excise the “foreign agent” label and decrease financial reporting requirements, but the persistence of other large bureaucratic burdens led to the bill’s defeat as legislators worried over the bill’s impact on Kyrgyzstan’s international reputation.
“Kyrgyzstan: Foreign Agent Bill Nixed, NGOs Rejoice” (EurasiaNet)
“Kyrgyzstan scraps bill to bring NGOs under tighter control” (Reuters)
“NGOs Avert Russian-Inspired Restrictions in Central Asia’s Only Democracy” (Foreign Policy)
(Image Credit: Igor Kovalenko/EPA, via Foreign Policy)
Massive protests against French labor reform bring about violence, arrests, strikes
- Demonstrations have been ongoing since March, when labor and student unions organized against government proposals perceived as decreasing job security and negotiating power for workers.
- More than 1,000 have been arrested during clashes with police in cities like Paris and Nantes that have seen more than 300 officers injured as protesters have alleged instances of police brutality, with police unions organizing counter-protests against anti-police violence.
- After President François Hollande’s government survived a no-confidence vote, union leaders planned rolling strikes and continuing demonstrations across the country.
“Une semaine de grèves et manifestations pour relancer le mouvement contre la loi travail” (Le Monde, in French)
“French police hit back at ‘anti-cop hatred’ after protest violence” (The Guardian)
“French government shrugs off no-confidence vote, faces new strikes” (Reuters)
(Image Credit: Geoffroy van der Hasselt/AFP/Getty Images, via The Guardian)
France’s leading political women, journalists, and activists confront sexism in French politics
- Two op-eds appeared over the last week as protests have grown confronting what many women in French politics—politicians, reporters, and petitioners alike—report is a culture of silence and impunity towards sexual harassment.
- Appearing in the Journal du Dimanche and Libération, the op-eds called for women who have experienced sexual harassment to speak out and register formal complaints and for an expansion of investigative capacity to ensure the behavior does not go unpunished.
- The effort comes as a number of scandals have engulfed male politicians, including the most recent leading to the resignation of Denis Baupin, vice president of the National Assembly, following multiple allegations of sexual harassment.
“Ce n’est pas aux femmes à s’adapter à ces milieux, ce sont les comportements de certains hommes qui doivent changer.”
Translation: “It’s not on women to adapt to these environments; it’s the conduct of certain men that must change.”
“Harcèlement sexuel : ‘L’impunité, c’est fini’” (Le Journal du Dimanche, in French)
“Harcèlement et politique: «Pour que l’impunité cesse»” (Libération, in French)
“French former ministers launch attack on sexism in politics” (The Guardian)
“Après l’affaire Baupin, témoignages, appels à libérer la parole et retours de flamme” (Le Monde, in French)
(Image Credit: Reuters, via The Guardian)