Friday, November 20, 2009

Through Albino Eyes

Over the past two years at least 56 albino people in Burundi and Tanzania have been killed by hunters working for witchdoctors who sell their body parts as talismans for thousands of dollars.

The killings triggered a humanitarian crisis as thousands of albinos were either trapped in their villages, too frightened to move, or in the case of children abandoned in special schools for the disabled and shelters guarded by the police.

The spontaneous local humanitarian response to this emergency was coordinated by the Red Cross societies of both countries. It sharply highlighted the long-standing social and health problems of Great Lakes albinos, above all the skin cancer to which so many of them succumb. One of HDEO's intrepid friends, Alex Wynter, has just finished producing a ten-minute web documentary on this tragic story (below) as well as comprehensive advocacy report

A few figures

·         $75,000 - Tanzanian police estimate of the value to witch doctors of a complete set of albino body parts, including all four limbs, genitals, ears, nose, and tongue.

·         $4,000 - Amount raised by a local appeal organized by the Tanzania Red Cross in Kigoma to assist abandoned albino children – all from private contributions by Red Cross volunteers and other local humanitarian workers.

·         $246,000 - Amount the Tanzania Red Cross is appealing for now to expand humanitarian work with albinos throughout the two regions most seriously affected by the occult-based killings: Kigoma and Mwanza.

·         56 - Official number of albinos who have been killed by hunters over the past two years in Burundi and Tanzania (44 of them in Tanzania).

HDEO has featured a number of stories and photos on this issue over the last months, including:


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