Photo: Amos Gumulira/AFP/Getty Images
United Nations’ Independent Expert Ikponwosa Ero warns that people with albinism could be completely extinct in Malawi at the rate of systemic killings spread across the country.
Albinos targeted, human body parts used for rituals
Belief in witchcraft fuels babaric practice, that puts young innocents most ‘at risk’
65 deaths recorded by police since late 2014, in Malawi
UN reports 40 attacks across seven countries in just last eight months
‘…these countries should be taught the ‘dignity of living and the sanctity of human life.’ It is time for the developed world to deny aid to these countries until they show commitment to eradicating this barbarism’
An African country’s albino population faces complete extinction as killers hunt down the endangered group for their mythological “powers.”
Malawi’s small population of people with albinism , which is less than 10,000 could be completely wiped out as the crisis continues, with 65 deaths recorded by police since late 2014, the United Nations revealed.
“Persons with albinism, and parents of children with albinism, constantly live in fear of attack,” Ikponwosa Ero, the UN’s expert on albino people said. “Many do not sleep peacefully and have deliberately restricted their movement to the necessary minimum.”
People are willing to pay as much as $3,000 or $4,000 for a limb, or as much as $75,000 – for the ‘full set’, a whole body.
In many cases, it’s close relatives betraying their own loved ones with albinism, turning them over to hunters who turn a lucrative profit selling body parts for witchcraft rituals, potions or amulets for $2,000 for a limb, or $75,000 for an entire corpse, Ero said.
The killings are especially brutal as many believe that the body parts will be more effective the more the victim screams.
Two-year-old Whitney was abducted from her bed while she was sleeping in April. Baby Whitney’s skull, teeth and clothes were later discovered in a neighbouring village. Her brutal murder follows that of 9-year-old Harry, snatched from his home in February and found beheaded soon after.
Whitney and Harry were targeted because they have albinism. Thousands of people with albinism – particularly children – are at huge risk of abduction and killings in Malawi, where their body parts are sold for witchcraft. The abductions are on the rise.
Children tend to be the majority of victims, because of a belief that the more innocent the person with albinism, the more potent the body parts will be for the potion.
Even after they are killed, albino people’s graves are robbed as their remains are believed to possess special powers also.
And Malawi’s justice system hasn’t helped — stealing a cow yields a harsher penalty that killing an albino person, the UN expert noted in her report.
Ero, who has albinism, is calling for a reform in Malawi within the police, prosecutors and magistrates to better handle these criminal cases before the nation’s entire albino population is extinct.
“Addressing the root causes of attacks, in particular why they are happening, is indispensable to eradicating them. It is worrying to note that witchcraft beliefs and practices are widespread in Malawi, although often a taboo topic,” Ero said.
Attacks against albino people don’t occur exclusively in Malawi, as 40 attacks have been reported across seven countries in just the last eight months — just a fraction of the real number that’s never reported, Ero noted.