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Madagascar: Fight dangerous myths and poverty to end attacks on people with albinism, says United Nations (UN) expert

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  A UN expert has called for urgent action to combat attacks on people with albinism including killing and maiming which are on the rise in Madagascar as dangerous myths and poverty persist Babies and children remain the main targets among the doubling of attacks this year False beliefs myths and superstitions that the eyes of people with albinism can bring good luck and wealth have triggered attacks directed mainly at children in the south of the country where poverty is widespread said the independent expert on albinism Muluka Anne Miti Drummond People with albinism in the most remote parts of this region live in perpetual fear and have resorted to taking their children and leaving them at local police and gendarmerie stations for protection The Government should launch nationwide education and awareness campaigns to combat false beliefs myths superstitions and ignorance about albinism Between 2020 and 2022 the police and gendarmerie reported around 45 cases including kidnappings mutilations and murders Attacks in 2022 have doubled compared to 2021 with four attacks recorded in one month The victims have included a nine month old baby I was informed of another attack just a few days ago underscoring the need for robust and immediate protection for people with albinism particularly in remote regions where poverty is widespread Miti Drummond said in a statement after a recent 10 day attack official visit to the country The expert visited impoverished communities in Fort Dauphin Ambovombe and Amoboasary She said the south has been hardest hit by climate change suffering from droughts cyclones severe food shortages and insecurity caused by dahalos or cattle rustlers COVID 19 has further exacerbated poverty and this has provided fertile ground for dangerous myths to spread and manifest in attacks and other harmful practices in the vain hope of gaining wealth Miti Drummond said Attacks are also said to increase ahead of elections and I urge vigilance in light of next year s pending elections The expert was also concerned about the low level of convictions I am only aware of two convictions in the cases I received and none for the most heinous crimes such as mutilations and murders Perpetrators must be brought to justice to avoid the perception of impunity that can lead to mob justice Many people with albinism are prevented from gainful employment and access to proper education due to stigma and discrimination Accessing sun protection as a life saving product is also too expensive for many The expert praised the creation of a high level technical committee on albinism that aims to develop a national action plan A study and analysis of people with albinism throughout the country is also planned Miti Drummond will present a full report on his visit to the Human Rights Council in March 2023
Madagascar: Fight dangerous myths and poverty to end attacks on people with albinism, says United Nations (UN) expert

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Muluka-Anne Miti

A UN expert has called for urgent action to combat attacks on people with albinism, including killing and maiming, which are on the rise in Madagascar as dangerous myths and poverty persist.

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Babies and children remain the main targets among the doubling of attacks this year.

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“False beliefs, myths and superstitions that the eyes of people with albinism can bring good luck and wealth have triggered attacks directed mainly at children in the south of the country, where poverty is widespread,” said the independent expert on albinism, Muluka-Anne Miti. – Drummond.

“People with albinism, in the most remote parts of this region, live in perpetual fear and have resorted to taking their children and leaving them at local police and gendarmerie stations for protection.” The Government should launch nationwide education and awareness campaigns to combat false beliefs, myths, superstitions and ignorance about albinism.

Between 2020 and 2022, the police and gendarmerie reported around 45 cases including kidnappings, mutilations and murders.

Attacks in 2022 have doubled compared to 2021, with four attacks recorded in one month.

The victims have included a nine-month-old baby.

“I was informed of another attack just a few days ago, underscoring the need for robust and immediate protection for people with albinism, particularly in remote regions, where poverty is widespread,” Miti-Drummond said in a statement after a recent 10 day attack.

official visit to the country.

The expert visited impoverished communities in Fort Dauphin, Ambovombe and Amoboasary.

She said the south has been hardest hit by climate change, suffering from droughts, cyclones, severe food shortages and insecurity caused by dahalos, or cattle rustlers.

“COVID-19 has further exacerbated poverty and this has provided fertile ground for dangerous myths to spread and manifest in attacks and other harmful practices in the vain hope of gaining wealth,” Miti-Drummond said.

“Attacks are also said to increase ahead of elections, and I urge vigilance in light of next year’s pending elections.”

The expert was also concerned about the low level of convictions.

“I am only aware of two convictions in the cases I received and none for the most heinous crimes such as mutilations and murders.

“Perpetrators must be brought to justice to avoid the perception of impunity that can lead to mob justice.”

Many people with albinism are prevented from gainful employment and access to proper education due to stigma and discrimination.

Accessing sun protection as a life-saving product is also too expensive for many.

The expert praised the creation of a high-level technical committee on albinism that aims to develop a national action plan.

A study and analysis of people with albinism throughout the country is also planned.

Miti-Drummond will present a full report on his visit to the Human Rights Council in March 2023.

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