Albinism expert appointed by UN rights watchdog after attacks

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Some people with Albinism live in fear of attack, the UN Human Rights Council has heard. UN Photo/Marie Frechon

The international community lent its weight to efforts to stamp out attacks on people with albinism on Thursday by appointing a new UN expert to investigate abuses and promote equality.

The development at the Human Rights Council in Geneva follows a growing number of horrific attacks on people born with the condition.

Children and adults have died in attacks in East Africa, where albino body parts are prized in traditional medicine.

Daniel Johnson has more.

Promoted by the Africa group of nations and backed by 21 additional country sponsors, the resolution puts the UN spotlight firmly on the issue of attacks on people with albinism.

The condition is characterized by a lack of pigment in the skin.

The Algerian delegation presented the Africa group's proposal at the Human Rights Council in Geneva, saying that the new expert – or special rapporteur – would report back on the "obstacles and challenges" that people with albinism faced.

Boudjemaa Delmi is the Algerian ambassador representing the Africa group's proposal at the council:

"The mandate will consist of the following: engage in dialogue and consultations with states and other stakeholders concerned…identify, exchange and promote good practices on the enjoyment of human rights of persons with albinism and their participation as equal members of society."

The resolution gives the new human rights expert an initial period of three years to work with states where attacks have happened.

These include the African countries of Tanzania, Malawi and Burundi, where in recent months groups of men have reportedly abducted babies with albinism and removed limbs in order to sell them on.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations

Duration: 1’16″

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