Human Rights

Albinos killed for witchcraft in Malawi face 'extinction,' UN expert warns

A young girl getting her hair braided at a facility acting as a safe haven for children with albinism in Tanzania.

A young girl getting her hair braided at a facility acting as a safe haven for children with albinism in Tanzania.  (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)

An estimated 10,000 albinos living in poverty-stricken Malawi face “extinction” if they continue to be killed and harvested for body parts that are used in witchcraft ceremonies, a United Nations expert warned.

Ikponwosa Ero said Friday that police in the African country have recorded 65 attacks, abductions and murders of albinos since the beginning of 2015, amounting to “a crisis disturbing in its proportions,” the BBC reports.

Ero, an albino herself, is the U.N. Human Rights Council’s expert on albinism – a condition where people appear pale due to a lack of melanin pigment in their skin.

She said albinos are targeted because there are beliefs that their body parts "can increase wealth, make businesses prosper or facilitate employment" in Malawi. "Even in death, they do not rest in peace as their remains are robbed from graveyards," she added.

Albinos are also targeted in the neighboring countries of Mozambique and Tanzania.

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