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Monday, April 12, 2010

Albinos still under threat

News story courtesy of The Guardian Newspaper, Tanzania (12th April, 2010)

*Man`s palm chopped off by alleged Maasai pastoralists

*It is Morogoro region`s first case since albino killings started

A shocking reminder that people with albinism were still at risk, Maasai pastoralists are alleged to have cut off the palm of a man suffering from the skin disorder in Morogoro Region on Saturday.

The incident which occurred at around 4.15pm at Kibaoni village, Melela ward in Mvomero district, left Said Abdalah (41) without a palm on the left hand.

He was rushed to Morogoro Regional Hospital where he is being treated for the wounds sustained in the attack.

Morogoro Regional Commissioner Issa Machibya confirmed the incident, saying police have launched a manhunt for the attackers.

Machibya said it was the first time an albino was being attacked in the region since the attacks and killings started around the country in 2007, leading to the killings of more than 40 albinos for their body parts and organs.

Police in the region were working hard to arrest the alleged attackers, according the Regional Police Commander Thobias Andengenye when contacted by The Guardian.

Speaking from his hospital bed, Abdallah said he was attacked by four machete-wielding people who had followed him to his farm.

The people carrying machete and sticks hit him on the head, rendering him unconscious, before cutting off his palm.

When he regained consciousness, he was shocked to find his palm missing. He was also bleeding profusely.

“I started crying for help, attracting the attention of a woman passing by the farm, who took me home,” said Abdallah.

However when he reached home he was not able to get any First Aid because he lived alone.

The chairman of Kibaoni hamlet, Asikile Yuda and Good Samaritans helped him to get to hospital for treatment after reporting to the central police where Abdalah was issued with a PF3 Form.

Abdallah said that he had earlier been threatened by pastoralists when he warned them against passing with their livestock through his farm because they destroyed crops.

He said that many pastoralists had invaded the village threatening farmers while their livestock destroyed crops in the farms.

The Secretary General of Tanzania Albino Association Ziada Nsembo said albinos were still unsafe because the attacks had stopped for about eight months but it seems that they had resurfaced.

“Those people who are attacking albinos seem not to fear anything because the death penalty against those who have killed albinos has not been carried out,” she said.

Nsembo said his association was requesting the government to implement the court ruling so that it may serve as a deterrent against those planning to carry out similar acts.

The Morogoro Regional Commissioner, Issa Machibya told The Guardian that the region’s defence and security committee had started discussing the matter to look for ways to arrest the problem before more killings occurred.

He said he had been alerted over looming albino killings and had taken the matter seriously.

“We will heighten vigilance and make sure all albinos in the region are safe and all those planning to attack them are arrested,” the RC said.

For his part, the Kibaoni hamlet chairperson, Yuda said that he had received the complaints and was working on them.

He said that he and his men had carried out a search but they were not able to locate the missing palm.

He noted that it was the first incident to occur in their village despite prevailing bad blood between farmers and pastoralists.

He said that with the help of the government, they would strengthen security in the village in order to arrest the culprits and reassure the albinos who now feared for the lives.

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