Thousands of African Albinos Hide to Avoid Body-Parts Hunters

Monday, November 30, 2009
Tanzanian Albino and Friend (photo: Tanzania Albino Centre)

If enduring superstitions, discrimination and a high risk of skin cancer weren’t enough, albinos living in Africa have to worry about being killed for their body parts. Murders of albinos in East Africa have been on the rise since 2007, with 44 killed in Tanzania and 14 others in Burundi, largely because of the belief that people lacking skin pigmentation have magical powers. The most recent killing took place in Tanzania where a 10-year-old boy was beheaded and had his legs chopped off. Black market traders can fetch up to $75,000 for a dead albino who’s been dismembered.

According to the International Federation for the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, approximately 10,000 African albinos have been displaced or gone into hiding in recent years.
In addition to being pursued for their body parts, albinos are feared by many Africans because of the superstition that they are harbingers of disaster. Local school officials have been known to discourage parents from sending their albino children to school, believing they are retarded.
-Noel Brinkerhoff
Through Albino Eyes: The Plight of Albino People in Africa’s Great Lakes Region and a Red Cross Response (International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies) (PDF)
Albinos in Tanzania Face Deadly Threat (by Jeffrey Gettleman, New York Times)


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