People with albinism continue to be hunted like wild trophy (Pic. Agencies)

GABORONE – SADC Executive SECRETARY STERGOMENA LAWRENCE TAX has called on people to unanimous condemn all forms of abuse, prejudice, and discrimination against people with albinism.

She has issued a statement from the Secretariat Headquarters in GABORONE, BOTSWANA, to mark the occasion of the International Albinism Awareness Day, today (13 JUNE).

Ms TAX says the UNITED NATIONS General Assembly proclaimed the day through a resolution calling for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against such persons.

Since the start of the commemorations in 2015, the Day has drawn considerable regional, continental and global attention, as well as awareness of the human rights of persons with albinism.

Ms TAX says the event is a reminder of the harsh realities facing sufferers of albinism and parents of children with the condition.

In many parts of the world, including in the SADC, albinism is grossly misunderstood, and people living with the problem continue to be in a constant state of fear owing to the attacks, killings, and societal prejudices against them.

Such people, young and old alike, live in isolation and are deprived of their rights, including the right to life, the right to health as well as the right to education and work.

Ms TAX says consequently, they are often trapped in the cycle of poverty; which calls for efforts and commitment by all to stop the atrocities.

Security concerns have forced some families to relocate from their communities to urban areas, which are considered to be relatively safe.

People with albinism have a condition that makes them valuable commodities in parts of eastern and Southern AFRICA, where they are killed like elephants and rhino for their bodies, which can fetch thousands of dollars.

Media reports reveal people the hunting has continued each day of each year, with the culprits becoming even more forceful like in MALAWI, MOZAMBIQUE, SWAZILAND, TANZANIA, and SOUTH AFRICA.

Albino slaying is also common in East AFRICA, where the bones and flesh are processed by witches who believe they can bring their clients riches, success, power, or sexual conquest; with children being the major targets.

Ms TAX says it is sad most widespread beliefs, myths and misconceptions about people with albinism affect children and women excessively; and of great concern is that some of such abuses are by people entrusted with the duty to protect the victims.

She says on the 13TH of JUNE, people recognize the efforts of men and women who are working hard to ensure the safety of albinism sufferers.

They include governments, community members, non-state actors and civil society groups raising awareness and advocating for the respect of the rights of people with albinism.

The Secretariat says it also applauds SADC nations that have put in place policy and legislation to protect people with albinism.

Ms TAX says they encourage other countries that have not done so to consider initiating dialogue with a view to enact legislation that protects and promotes the rights of people with the condition.

She says the authorities appreciate the progress made, but there is need to further take concrete measures to protect the rights of people with albinism.

The safety of children with albinism both at home and at school must be a guarantee, because if the kids get the right environment and education, they too can grow up and contribute to the SADC Vision.

Ms TAX says there is need for an environment where people with albinism can live and enjoy their economic, social, cultural, civil and political rights to their fullest potential.

The success story can only come out of being unanimous in condemning all forms of abuse, prejudice and discrimination perpetrated against people with albinism; putting these acts to their absolute end.

The SADC Secretary General says people with albinism should never be treated as lesser human beings; and the regional community can only achieve such a situation if people work together with utmost resolve and renewed commitment./Sabanews/cam

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