Commemorating International Albinism Awareness Day – 13 June 2019

UN Independent Expert on Rights by Persons with Albinism, Ikponwosa Ero, also met with persons with albinism when she visited Malawi in 2016.

Lilongwe, 13th June 2019: Today is International Albinism Awareness Day, a day designated by the United Nations General Assembly in 2014 to spread awareness about albinism worldwide. Albinism is a genetic condition that uniquely intersects colour and disability. In the last decade, hundreds of persons with albinism – including in Malawi – have been harassed, bullied, physically attacked and even killed due to misbeliefs about the condition.

The UN stands strong in solidarity with persons with albinism in Malawi and around the world. Still Standing Strong is the global theme for the Day this year. This theme is a call to recognise, celebrate and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism, who live with a constant threat to their physical security and safety, simply because they are born with a different skin colour and for being who they are.

In the lead-up to the elections in Malawi this year, we saw a spike in the number of attacks and killings against Malawians with albinism – attacks that stem from root causes, including the negative mystification of albinism, stigma, poverty and harmful practices based on manifestation of belief in witchcraft.

In addition, in Malawi, persons with albinism have faced, and continue to face, discrimination and challenges in everyday life that seriously undermine their enjoyment of human rights, including the right to health, education, employment, the right to live in the community and political participation.  The 2018 Malawi Population and Housing Census Report, published earlier this month, indicates that the previously estimated figure of persons with albinism in Malawi (17,000) was a gross underestimation. According to the census report, there are 134,000 persons with albinism in Malawi today.

Therefore, today, we recognise, celebrate and encourage strength in the 134,000 Malawians with albinism, their family members as well as their fellows around the world who are commemorating this Day. We welcome the Government of Malawi’s preparation and adoption of the National Action Plan on Persons with Albinism. The UN stands ready to work closely with the Government, other development partners and civil society organisations to implement this plan without further delay.

We look forward to seeing the written commitment in the plan become a reality in a manner that will bring about positive, concrete and lasting change in the enjoyment of human rights by persons with albinism in Malawi – beginning with the most fundamental rights: to life, and to security of a person.

Ms. Maria Jose Torres

United Nations Resident Coordinator for Malawi

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Currently, there are more than 20 Agencies and specialized organizations of the United Nations active in Malawi which, through their work, contribute to ensuring a better life for the people of Malawi.

For more information, contact: UN Communications Officer, Phillip Pemba, on phillip.pemba@one.un.org or +265995271671.

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