Attacks on Albinos in Mozambique are engineered by powerful cross-border network, UN Independent Expert Says

Ikponwosa Ero, UN Independent Expert on the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism, during her official visit to Mozambique had made observations and inputs towards strengthening the fundamental human rights of albinos as they are severely threatened and being chased by cruel people who desire their body parts for rituals and other purposes.

“People with albinism, from cradle to grave, are hunted and their body parts are wanted – everything from their heads to their toes, their hair, their nails and even their faeces are collected,” she said. “Real fear therefore exists among persons with albinism across the country, particularly in provinces with reported attacks.”

During her visit, which spanned from 21st August to September 3rd, Ikponwosa Ero mentioned that regardless of all the efforts and some progress being made in protecting Albinos in Mozambique, the condition is still parlous and unstable as the real orchestrators of this cruel act is yet to be discovered. She expressed some happiness and approval towards the efforts of the government towards handling the condition with the government’s Multi-Sectorial Plan of Action to address attacks, and the use of pre-existing mechanisms such as reference groups. She further highlighted that the plan, if it will be very impactful, will need to be wholly and conscientiously implemented.

The UN Independent Expert also added that, responsible agencies of the government in fighting such crime have not apprehended any of the masterminds – whom authorities assume to be residing in other countries other than Mozambique. However, Ero mentioned that there is not enough evidence to prove that since most of the arrested culprits now are citizens of Mozambique. Due to recent migration trends worldwide and the hypothetical threats of migrants causing havoc in their host countries (example Germany), Ero highlighted that “Care should be taken in making such inferences to avoid stoking xenophobic sentiments, particularly against the refugees and migrants that Mozambique is welcoming.”

Additionally, she also said “It is believed that the masterminds operate in a secretive but powerful cross-border network akin to that of drug barons. To date, none of them have been caught or prosecuted and perceived networks are yet to be identified.”

The UN Independent Expert, in Mozambique, visited the country’s capital, and other places including Nampula. There, she had the experience of meeting relatives of victims of such attack, and relatives of persons with albinism while also visiting captives criminated with crimes against persons with albinism. Ero declared that she could feel the danger and fright within people with albinism in Mozambique. There is also high discrimination in societies where people do not want to associate with albinos and at the extreme, some could even spit on the floor after coming across an albino.

Ikponwosa Ero mentioned that through government initiatives towards the UN SDGs – which seeks to elevate inequalities, there is hope that Mozambique will be able to secure the freedom and right of albinos.

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