20 February 2012


Since 2007, violence against albino people in Tanzania has reached alarming levels. The killing and mutilation of albinos is associated with the belief that certain of their body parts have supernatural powers and can make a person rich or successful. Thus, the demand for albino body parts is fuelled by the lucrative trade linked to the practice of witchcraft in a country facing poverty and social challenges. While it is difficult to estimate the magnitude of this phenomenon, it is clear that children are increasingly becoming targets of such violent acts.

Albinism is a genetic disorder characterized by lack of melanin pigment in the skin, hair, and eyes. Albinos make up about one in 4,000 people in South Africa and perhaps one in 5,000 in Nigeria. Accurate data is unavailable for Tanzania but it is estimated to be one in 1,400, suggesting an albino community of about 30,000, however the Albino Association of Tanzania believes the total figure could be more than 150,000.

Children with albinism are continuously suffering from abuse and exploitation which in most cases end in fatality. They are often rejected by their families and communities who consider them as a "curse", and they are subjected to extreme discrimination and stigmatization.

Edmund Rice International (ERI) has leant its support to a written submission by Franciscans International (FI) to the UN Human Rights Council on the plight of albino children in Tanzania.

The murder and mutilation of albino children constitutes a major violation of fundamental human rights. While the Government of Tanzania has highlighted its progress and commitment to addressing the situation of albino people in terms of prosecution and prevention, ERI shares the deep concern of FI about the protection of innocent victims. It believes that there is an urgent need to take immediate action at international, regional, and national levels towards the protection of this vulnerable group of children and the eradication of the practice.

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