[JURIST] The UN human rights office [official website] on Monday said that the Tanzanian government’s system of placing children with albinism in government care centers does not provide this vulnerable group with adequate protection from those who target albinos due to erroneous beliefs and superstitions. The widespread belief that the body parts of human albinos bring wealth and success or cure diseases has led to brutal attacks [AP report]. Although the government began placing people with albinism in state-run education centers in response to a number of attacks, the UN has called this practice into question and is now working to determine whether this constitutes segregation. Many of the children are forcibly removed from their homes [AFP report] and cut off from their families, according to human rights officer Alicia Londono, and there is concern that what was meant to be a temporary emergency measure has become a long term solution that places children into overcrowded centers to live in horrible conditions. Londono stressed the need to improve conditions in the centers rather than shutting them down and exposing the children to traffickers. An increase in attacks in the last year led the office to refocus on the need for better protection.
This is not the first time that Tanzania’s treatment of albinos has been addressed. In May UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay [official profile] called for increased protection [press release] for people with albinism after the murder of a 40-year-old woman with albinism, saying that the killing demonstrated that the human rights situation for people with albinism in Tanzania and other countries remained dire. In 2013 Pillay condemned the increase in attacks [JURIST report] on those with albinism in Tanzania. The statement [press release] followed four attacks on albinos over a 16-day period, including three children. Pillay called the attacks abhorrent and called upon local officials to do more to address the problem by prosecuting attacks on albinos, caring for the victims and educating people about using stereotypes.