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Friday, 12 May 2017 14:07

UN women, police fight for rights of people with Albinism

Written by  Ed-Grant Ndoza

Chitipa, May 11, 2017: The Malawi Police Service (MPS) says it has jacked up its efforts to completely stump out abuses and violation of the rights of people with Albinism.

The commitment was sounded Wednesday by Commissioner of Police for the Northern Region,  Martha Suwedi when she received a donation of  assorted items from the United Nations Women (UN women), to be distributed to people with albinism and community policing forums, at a ceremony held at Rufita Trading Centre, in the area of Chief Mwaulambia, in Chitipa District.

She said her office was so shocked, not long time ago, with the escalating waves of attacks, killings and exhumation of the remains of people with Albinism, a situation she said forced her office to spring to action in rescue of targeted minority group.

Suwedi, however, said her region, which registered eight cases of attacks on people with albinism, is again becoming a safe haven for people with albinism, attributing the conducive environment on a number of strategies her office is implementing, in full collaboration with stakeholders in combating the vice.

“As Police Service, we have lined up a number of strategies in sniffing and tracking  criminals hatching clandestine motives against people with Albinism which are spiced with intensified awareness campaigns on the need to promote and protect the rights of people with albinism,  right at family and community levels, where at times discrimination originates from,” said Suwedi.

The Northern Region has officially registered 154 people with albinism, on whom, seriously committed woman, Suwedi, has sworn and made a strong vow never to lose one, at all cost, unless through natural causes and not through acts of chilling brutality and immorality.

Suwedi, to a larger extent, also attributed fast reduction of attacks on people with albinism in the region on commitment and coordination among members of the community, led by their patriotic and passionate traditional leaders, Human Rights affiliated NGOs, such as UN Women and well empowered members from community policing forums, who she said work around the clock to alleviate the plight of people with albinism.

The Regional Commissioner then thanked UN Women in a special way for the donation, which she described as crucial and timely.

She said UN Women was a true partner to police in promoting the welfare of people with Albinism.

Suwedi added that much as her office appreciates the noble duty discharged by community policing forums, it fails to provide necessary equipment and tools and motivation to the forum members for their smooth operation, due to limited resources.

The safety and security gear donation included solar torches, hats, bicycles, umbrellas, reflector jackets, whistles, road-block sign posts and assorted stationery.

“The donation is a big incentive to members of community policing forums in their task to provide maximum security to their brothers and sisters with Albinism.” Said Suwedi.

The Regional Police Boss then asked NGOs and people of Good intention to pluck a leaf from UN Women’s gesture in forwarding aid towards promotion of the welfare of people with albinism.

An official from UN Women, Pamela Mkwamba Matumbi said her organization will continue working with police and other stakeholders in looking for lasting solutions to social challenges facing people with albinism in the country.

She said like any other groupings, UN Women decided to take an active role in efforts to fight for the rights of people with albinism when it was touched to learn that fellow Malawians, due to their different skin, are hunted down and killed on the misconception that their body parts can make wealth inducing charms.

“We all shoulder a collective role of squeezing sense into members of the communities that myths and beliefs that albino body parts are potential catalyst for wealth inducing charms are false and they must be warned that anyone intending to cause harm on members of this group will face the real weight of the law,” said Mkwamba Matumbi.

She then commended the country’s leadership for taking a tough stand against tendencies of perpetrating atrocities and violence on people with albinism and formulation of government national response plan which she said provides a clear direction in rehabilitation of victims of violence and implementation of strategies to curb further occurrences of attacks and killings of people with Albinism.

“ Let me also thank our members of Parliament who have complemented our campaign against abuse of rights of people with albinism by passing pieces of legislation which are potential to keeping away those nursing intentions to attack albinos,” said Mkwamba Matumbi.   

In his remarks, Chief Mwaulambia thanked UN Women and Police for considering Chitipa District, and particularly, his area for the special donation.

Mwaulambia assured both the Police and the UN Women that he would put a keen eye on the donation to ensure that the items are used for the purpose intended for, warning unspecified penalty for any form of abuse.

Mwaulambia, who appreciated the support from stakeholders in fighting abuse and violation of rights of people with albinism, made a strong pledge that people with albinism in his area are as safe and secure just like any other subject.

UN Women, with funding from DFID, under a Human Rights Window, in collaboration with the ministry of  gender, children, disabilities and social welfare, is building capacities of existing grass-root security structures in schools and villages to ensure safety of people with albinism, especially pupils, in selected districts of Chitipa, Kasungu, Machinga and Nsanje.

Since criminals launched attacks on people with albinism, Chitipa District, with a total number of 21 people with albinism, registered two cases, which included 52 year old Lucia Kalinga, from Senior Chief Kameme, losing her right arm in a gruesome night attack by unknown thugs.

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