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)
(Image Credit: Christine Wambaa/OHCHR)