Expert appeals for action over upsurge in attacks against people with albinism

Baku, October 16, AZERTAC

A UN Independent Expert on Albinism, on Thursday, issued an urgent appeal for coordinated action in Southern and Eastern Africa to tackle the upsurge in attacks against persons with albinism.

The expert, Ms Ikponwosa Ero, in a statement in New York, said persons with albinism were among the most vulnerable persons in the region.

She said “after centuries of chronic neglect of their plight, they have been relegated to the fringes of society where stigma and discrimination in every aspect of their lives have been normalised.”

Ero, also an albino, warned that an apparent increase in demand for body parts of persons with albinism had been reported in the run up to elections in several African countries.

She added that “today, our problems had been compounded by constant fear of attacks by people, including family members because we value our body parts more than their lives.”

The expert said she was deeply concerned about the highly disturbing pattern of increase in attacks during elections in the region.

Ero urged affected governments to urgently carry out specific measures, particularly through regional and international collaboration, to bring an end to the abhorrent crimes.

She also urged political parties to ensure that their candidates and supporters were not associated directly or indirectly with such grave human rights violations.

The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights said the position of independent experts on albinism was created as a way to focus attention and provide much needed information and discussion on the issue.

Albinism is a congenital condition which, according to the UN World Health Organisation, is most common in sub-Saharan Africa.

The organisation said one in every 5,000 to 15,000 persons was affected in sub-saharan Africa, compared with one in 17,000 to 20,000 in Europe and North America.

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