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Seven Days Without Two-Year-Old Asiimwe Novath: Concerns Grow Over Safety of People with Albinism

The silence from the police regarding efforts to recover the child has heightened concerns about her safety.

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It has now been seven days since the abduction of two-year-old Asiimwe Novath, who was taken on May 30, 2024, from Bulamula Village, Mbale Hamlet, Kamachumu Ward, Muleba District, Kagera Region. The silence from the police regarding efforts to recover the child has heightened concerns about her safety.

The Tanzania Albino Society (TAS) has strongly condemned the abduction, announcing its intention to request a meeting with President Samia Suluhu Hassan. TAS hopes that a statement from the President will help end such cruelty, emphasizing that it is disgraceful for a country claiming to value human dignity to have its citizens with albinism living in fear.

READ MORE: Search for Missing Two-Year-Old Albino Girl Intensifies; Three Detained

Godson Mollel, National Chairperson of TAS, issued a statement in Dar es Salaam on June 5, 2024, addressing journalists about the incident.

“We, the Tanzania Albino Society (TAS), strongly condemn the brutal abduction and disappearance of Asiimwe Novath, a two-and-a-half-year-old child with albinism, in the Mbale area, Muleba District, Kagera Region, Tanzania,” said Mollel. “This cruel act against an innocent child is abhorrent and reflects the rampant superstition that continues to plague our community and nation, tarnishing our country’s image.”

Mollel urged authorities to ensure the child’s recovery and provide transparency about the ongoing efforts to locate her. “People were arrested before, but we have not heard what happened to them. Now, through this incident of Asiimwe, we hope that Tanzania will become a peaceful country, where people with albinism can live in peace and that this incident will be the last,” he added.

TAS’s statement follows a similar condemnation by the Legal and Human Rights Centre (LHRC) on June 4, 2024, which urged the government to take swift action.

READ MORE: Stakeholders Demand Government Accountability Following Abduction of Child with Albinism

On June 5, 2024, Acting Regional Police Commander of Kagera, Yusuph Daniel, stated that the police had not yet found the child but were actively searching for the abductors. He also mentioned that three people, including the child’s father, are in custody and being questioned.

Dr. Abel Nyamahanga, Chairman of the Security and Safety Committee of Muleba District and the district commissioner, assured that efforts to find Asiimwe are ongoing and that updates will be provided as the search progresses.

While incidents of attacks or abductions of people with albinism have decreased recently, with none reported in 2023, the LHRC warned in its 2023 report about the persistent fear among people with albinism in some areas of Tanzania.

Historically, between 2014-2015 and 2019-2020, several incidents of abductions and killings of people with albinism were reported in Tanzania.

A case similar to Asiimwe’s occurred on December 27, 2014, in Ndami Village, Kwimba District, Mwanza Region, when unknown individuals abducted Pendo Emmanuel, a child with albinism, from her home. Despite extensive efforts, the child was never found.

These past incidents highlight ongoing concerns about the safety and security of people with albinism in Tanzania, underscoring the need for continued vigilance and protective measures. The kidnapping of children with albinism is a serious issue in Tanzania, where they are often targeted for their body parts, believed to be used in witchcraft rituals.

Matonyinga Makaro reports for The Chanzo from Mwanza. He’s available at matonyingamakaro@gmail.com

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