Fed up with continued attacks, abduction and murders of people with albinism, the Association of People with Albinism in Malawi (Apam) says it is time they were granted asylum in other countries.
In a telephone interview yesterday, Apam communications and advocacy officer Nellie Salima said asylum is one of the solutions the association is considering to ensure safety of persons with albinism.
She said Apam is also seeking interventions from development partners to assist Malawi Police Service (MPS) to bust the syndicate perpetrating the attacks.
Said Salima: “Our desire is that persons with albinism should be here at home, but there is no protection there. The environment has become toxic. That is the reason we are calling on development partners and other countries to come in and assist.”
Concurring with Salima, one of Apam members, Ian Simbota, said the Malawi Government has failed people with albinism whose fundamental right to life is at stake.
The proposal comes at a time when cases of attacks and abduction of persons with albinism are on the rise despite several assurances by authorities, including President Peter Mutharika, of their protection.
The most recent case happened on Wednesday in Dedza where Goodson Makanjira, 14, was abducted from his family home at dawn by unknown assailants.
In a separate interview, Mzuzu-based Youth and Society (YAS) executive director Charles Kajoloweka said the situation is worsened by lack of political will.
He said: “The only problem we must address is lack of political will in dealing with this issue decisively. There have been several discussions on this issue and we cannot be going back and forth on this issue. This is a crisis and government must declare it a national crisis.”
Centre for the Development of People (Cedep) executive director Gift Trapence said there is need for foreign investigators.
He said: “The issue is about tracing the purported market and at this point I think the Malawi Police Service must admit that they have failed. Living on promises will not take us anywhere, there is need for international expertise.”
But National Police spokesperson James Kadadzera said it was disheartening that police are being portrayed as not doing enough to protect persons with albinism.
He said: “Police are doing everything to protect them. For instance, in all the cases that have been reported to us, we have managed to arrest all the perpetrators.
“But as police, we are still saddened that there are still some people intimidating persons with albinism.”
Kadadzera said the police have, among other initiatives, strengthened community policing and enhanced awareness in communities which has seen involvement of the police chiefs.
Minister of Information and Communications Technology Henry Mussa, who is the official government spokesperson, said government is prioritising the issue.
During the launch of Chiwanja cha Ayao in Balaka on January 6, Mutharika warned perpetrators of abductions, killings and attacks on persons with albinism that they would “rot in jail”.
The President’s reaction came days after Yassin Kwenda Phiri, 54, a person with albinism, was brutally murdered in his house at Kande Trading Centre in Nkhata Bay on New Year’s Eve.