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Tanzanian people with albinism say they fear for lives after exhumation

The Tanzanian Albino Society called on President John Magufuli to "intervene personally and denounce this bestial act and provide financial support for programmes aimed at eradicating this barbarism against albinos."

Flag of Tanzania. Picture: Supplied

NAIROBI - Tanzanian people with albinism said Sunday they were living in fear of their lives after the remains of a person with albinism were exhumed in what they said was a "bestial" and "barbaric" act.

The Tanzanian Albino Society called on President John Magufuli to "intervene personally and denounce this bestial act and provide financial support for programmes aimed at eradicating this barbarism against albinos."

In Tanzania and other sub-Saharan African countries, people with albinism's body parts are sought after for witchcraft practices because they are believed to enhance luck and wealth.

The remains of Aman Anywelwisye Kalyembe, buried in 2015 in the Rungwe district of the Mbeya region in the south of the country, were exhumed and moved by unidentified individuals during the night of 23 and 24 April, the society said.

The incident was "fuelling fear among albinos and their families," it said in a statement.

It attributed such actions to "superstitious beliefs at a time when we are preparing for (general) elections in 2020."

Tanzania's human rights campaigners say that the number of attacks against albinos is in sharp decline, but their graves are increasingly being desecrated instead and their remains exhumed.

A number of such incidents have been reported in different areas of the country since 2016.

Albinism is a genetic condition that results in little or no production of the pigment melanin, which determines the colour of the skin, hair and eyes.

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