Burundi pressured on security for albinos


Bujumbura - Western envoys in Burundi have urged the government to protect albinos from organ traffickers who trade their lucrative body parts for use as potent ingredients for magic charms.

The security of albinos is still not being guaranteed, European and American ambassadors said in a statement received by AFP on Sunday.

The statement did note some progress with a 2009 trial that jailed eight people for killing albinos and selling their limbs to witch doctors in neighbouring Tanzania.

It urged Burundian authorities to protect their citizens without discrimination, to punish those responsible for the crimes and “end these scandalous acts that blemish the country's reputation”.

Murders of albinos appear to be picking up again near the border with Tanzania.

Gangs with suspected links to witch doctors there kidnapped a five-month-old albino girl and hacked off a young albino boy's arm earlier this year. Two young albino boys were killed and dismembered last October.

The wave of killings started in Tanzania, where more than 60 albinos were murdered since 2007 and their limbs hacked off to be sold to witch doctors who concoct charms.

“We are satisfied that diplomats are interested in the fates of albinos, but we feel ashamed that our country's authorities need to be reminded of their responsibility,” said Albinos Without Borders president Kazungu Kassim.

The government has done nothing for albinos until now apart from grouping them in the country's eastern and northern Bweru and Kayanza provinces where they have little to eat and are left untreated, he added.

Albinism is a congenital disorder characterised by a lack of pigment in the skin, hair and eyes, giving albinos translucent skin and hair, and pink eyes. - Sapa-AFP


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