Attacks on albino children require immediate action

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An Albino student (right) attends school in Niambly, near Duekoue, Côte d'Ivoire. Photo: UNHCR/H. Caux

A series of horrific attacks on children with albinism in east Africa has been condemned by the UN human rights chief who says that many people with the condition now live in "abject fear".

Victims as young as 12 months have been kidnapped and mutilated, including a six-year-old boy in Tanzania whose hand was severed by a machete.

Reacting to the attacks, UN Human Commissioner Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has called for governments to find those responsible and do more to discourage discrimination. Daniel Johnson has more.

At least 15 people with albinism have been abducted, wounded or killed in Tanzania, Malawi and Burundi in a growing spate of attacks in the last six months, the UN said Tuesday.

Three gruesome assaults happened in the last week alone, according to the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights.

It described groups of men "roaming around" hunting for people with albinism in Machinga District in the south of Malawi, in apparent witchcraft-related attacks.

Here's UN human rights office spokesperson Rupert Colville:

"These attacks are often stunningly vicious with children in particular being targeted. As a result many people with albinism are living in abject fear."

In Malawi, a man who helped kidnap his 11-year-old niece in January was reportedly promised $6,500 for her body, the UN human rights office said.

In response to the attacks, UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra'ad Al Hussein has called for governments bring the perpetrators of such assaults to justice.

The ban on witchcraft in Tanzania was a "step in the right direction", the high Commissioner said in a statement.

But he added that more needed to be done all over the world to end discrimination against people with albinism who suffer social rejection and poverty.

Daniel Johnson, United Nations.

Duration: 1'04"

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