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MALAWI COMMEMORATES INTERNATIONAL ALBINISM AWARENESS DAY (IAAD)

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Malawi Government has assured people with albinism in the country that it will work tirelessly to ensure that they are included in the development agenda.

The remarks were made by Minister responsible for Gender, Children, Disability and Social welfare Jean Kalilani, during the 2017 commemoration of IAAD at Nkolimbo Ground in Ntcheu.

 “The Government, through my Ministry, in collaboration with the Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM), will strengthen the mainstreaming of persons with Albinism in all sectors of the economy.  My Ministry is committed to improve the welfare and peace of persons with albinism in Malawi at all the levels,” she said.

 The Minister further said that it is saddening to see people with albinism living in fear and being denied freedom of movement. She said that the situation is leading to their limited participation and access to social and economic empowerment activities; psycho-social trauma and self-isolation.

 She added that the Ministry will strengthen collaboration with all stakeholders including the media to promote and protect the rights of persons with albinism at all the levels of the Malawi nation. She then called upon Malawians to raise awareness on albinism issues in order to   promote the dignity and lives of persons with albinism at all the levels.

 Speaking at the same function, Inspector General of Police Lexten Kachama said he is hopeful that the atrocities against people with albinism in the country will come to an end and encouraged members of the society to report suspicious activities to the police.

 “Let me assure the nation that the Malawi Police Service will not tire in protecting our brothers and sisters with albinism. If an atrocity occurs, we shall investigate it fully until justice is served. I would therefore like to call upon members of the public to report suspicious activities to the nearest police station or call the free toll line 772,” he said.

 UN Women Resident Representative Clara Anyangwe who represented the United Nations at the function said that the UN is concerned with the continuing attacks on people with albinism. She said that the UN will continue supporting government’s efforts to prevent the attacks and raise awareness on the issue.

 The Association of persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM) president, Overstone Kondowe said that people with albinism in the country are expecting to see an improvement in their lives. He said that people with albinism would like to have access to education, justice, protection, health and employment.

 “Many lives have been lost due to cancer. There is therefore need to increase awareness. APAM would also like to request that government help people with albinism to have access to glasses to improve their vision. The education of people with albinism has been badly affected because of the attacks. For example 98% of people with albinism in Machinga have dropped out of school. It is therefore important that students with albinism receive police protection,” he said.

 The IAAD was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly on 14th November 2014 to reflect on the plight of persons with albinism and call upon every individual global citizen to respect their rights. Malawi has been commemorating the Day from 2015. The 2017 Commemoration was held under the theme: ‘Advancing with renewed hope’. 

 The commemoration provided a platform to mobilise the nation stakeholders to join hands to promote the welfare of persons with albinism and to fight against global, national and local discrimination, violence and stigma against persons with albinism.