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    Friday, 14 June 2019

    Albinism; do we really care?

    How many of us here in Zimbabwe know that 13 June is International World Albinism Awareness Day? How many of us even care that there is such a day? On December 18, 2014, the United Nations General Assembly adopted resolution A/RES/69/170 proclaiming, 13 June as International Albinism Awareness Day with effect from 2015. The process leading to this declaration started around the mid-2000s when a rise in violent attacks on and murders of persons with albinism was reported in Tanzania. Tanzania is said to have the highest percentage of people living with albinism in the world. In response to this crisis an NGO called Tanzania Albinism Society begun to campaign for the human rights of persons with albinism and celebrated the first ‘Albino Day’ on May 4, 2006. This later became ‘National Albino Day’ from 2009 onwards and was eventually called ‘National Albinism Day’. This was followed by efforts made by a Canadian NGO called Under the Same Sun joined by the late ambassador of the Mission of Somalia to the UN, Yusuf Mohamed Ismail Bari-Bari. Albinism, (from the Latin word albus, which means “white”), is a hereditary condition that is characterized by the absence of pigment in the skin, eyes, hair, feathers, or scales. It can be found in animals and plants as well.
    The resolution made by the General Assembly “encourages UN Member States to continue their efforts to protect and preserve the rights of persons with albinism to life, dignity and security, as well as their right not to be subject to torture and cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment, and to continue their efforts to ensure equal access for persons with albinism to employment, education, justice and the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of health.” We therefore need to see our own government as a member of the United Nations taking this resolution seriously and ensuring that it is implemented at all levels of society. The theme for this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day is “Still Standing Strong”. This theme invites us all to celebrate, recognize and stand in solidarity with persons with albinism, while supporting their cause – from their accomplishments and positive practices to the promotion and protection of their human rights. Persons with albinism continue to face all sorts of challenges that seriously undermine the enjoyment of their rights as human beings. These challenges include stigma and discrimination, mockery, barriers in education and health, lack of recognition in social and political arenas and worse still killings by people who take away their body parts for ritual and medicinal purposes. In spite of these challenges, persons with albinism remain steadfastly positive and are STILL STANDING STRONG! Let us all Zimbabweans stand with them as they definitely are part of our family.
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