The European Union’s ‘Ambassador’ to Tanzania has issued a statement condemning attacks on people with albinism in that country, after a group of people who are affected by the condition visited his offices to plead for help.
Ambassador Filiberto Sebregondi called on the Tanzanian government to intervene to prevent further attacks.
Detailing the recent killing of one man who was trying to protect his wife from being attacked, the Ambassador wrote: “On August 18th a group of people living with albinism visited the EU Delegation and asked to talk to me as the EU Ambassador to Tanzania. They were exasperated by the very recent violent attacks on persons with albinism which resulted in the killing of Mapambo Mashiri (53), a husband who died defending his wife who lives with albinism, Mungu Masaga (35). Sadly, despite his valiant efforts the perpetrators still cut-off her arm and harmed her children.
“The cruel incident closely follows that of Pendo Sengerema (15) whose arm was severed off as well by the assailants. The representatives of people living with albinism came to the European Union in light of the open letter written to Prime Minister Mizengo Pinda on May 19th from all the Ambassadors of the EU Member Countries residing in Tanzania, on the surge of these barbaric attacks.”
It is believed that these attacks are caused by a belief that the body parts of albino people hold magical powers.
Witch doctors in the region are known to use the parts during rituals, and to concoct potions that they claim will bring luck and prosperity. Worryingly, there is evidence that this belief is held even among more educated citizens.
Tanzania has a particularly high rate of albinism compared to other African countries, with nearly 7,000 people are registered as albinos. Since 2000, at least 73 people have been killed by albino hunters, prompting the government to open guarded shelters for albino children.