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28 Jul 2017

UN envoy condemns ‘witchcraft’ attacks on albinos

UN Independent Expert on the Enjoyment of Human Rights by Persons with Albinism, Ms Ikponwosa Ero, has expressed regrets at attacks on albinos for rituals.
Ero, a Nigerian living with albinism, expressed concerns that albinos continue to live in fear of attacks in many rural areas.

“People with albinism continue to live in a very fragile situation, as the root causes of the attacks against them remain rampant, and the effects of over a decade of violations have taken their toll,” she said.

Ero, who is the first-ever UN independent expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, was on 11-day visit to Tanzania.

Ero regretted that attacks on albinos were rooted in the mistaken belief that the body parts of people with albinism have value in witchcraft practices.

While welcoming a drop in the number of reported attacks against albinos in Tanzania, Ero regretted widespread attitudes that lead to violence against them in rural Tanzania.

“I welcome the measures already taken by the Government and civil society, and the decrease in the number of reported attacks.

“There have been positive measures to address witchcraft practices, including the registration of traditional healers.

“However, full oversight over their work has still not been achieved, and confusion still exists in the minds of the general public between witchcraft practice and the work of traditional healers,” the expert noted.

She said more work was needed to address witchcraft and educate the public. Ero also highlighted concerns over the use of schools as protection centres for children with albinism, which in some cases have evolved from temporary shelters into long-term accommodation.

Although there has been a significant reduction in the overall number of children in these shelters, more work remained to be done, she added. During her mission to Tanzania, Ero met with various high-level officials, civil society representatives, people with albinism, and their family members.

The UN expert would present a full report and recommendations to the Human Rights Council in March 2018. NAN reports the UN Human Rights High Commissioner, whose Office has received reports of more than 200 cases of attacks against people with albinism in 15 countries between 2000 and 2013, although the actual number could be much higher.

A report by the Albino Foundation, across African countries including Nigeria, Albinos are classified amongst the vulnerable groups of society, which includes people living with various kinds of physical disabilities.

The prevalence rate of albinism in Nigeria is ranked amongst the highest in the world with an estimated figure of over two million albinos living in the country. Statistics also show that over 600,000 Nigerians living with albinism suffer discrimination from their families, schoolmates and peers.

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