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People with Albinism decry social discrimination, human rights abuse – Report

Albinos queue up for treatment during medical camp at Gulu Regional Referral Hospital, Gulu town. |The Albinism community in Uganda has decried the continues discrimination and human rights abuses (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA – People living with albinism have appealed for help as most of them not only face discrimination but also human rights abuse.

A recent report presented to Parliament on the validation of the Situation Analysis of Persons with Albinism on 31 October says there is need to increase awareness and protection of their rights.

Albinism is a rare group of genetic disorders that result from a reduction or absence of the pigment melanin that causes the skin, hair, or eyes to have little or no color.

Mr. Aliro Omara, a consultant for Office of the United Nations High Commission for Human Rights backed by the Uganda Albinism Society while delivering the report said there are still associated concerns, myths, health conditions, and superstitions as well as stereotypes centered on albinism.

“Many persons with albinism are discriminated culturally, socially and even by the government; parents of children with albinism are not aware of the risks their children face,” Mr. Omara said.

The report recommends the need to create and raise awareness about albinism and the issues surrounding it in order to make the public understand that albinos are human beings like any other and have feelings.

“There should be campaigns and albinism should be introduced into the curriculum; teachers and medical workers need to be sensitive to people with albinism and they should know that they have rights like other human beings,” Mr Omara added.

The report further recommends that the Uganda Bureau of Statistics should conduct a detailed survey of people with albinism and that there should be legislation to protect them.

“Impunity or any stigmatization of albinism should be stopped by all means and the only way to achieve this is by putting in place a law to protect people with albinism,” Mr Omara explained.

Ms Olive Namutebi, the executive director for Uganda Albinism Umbrella said in Uganda people living with albinism still face social discrimination from their parents and society.

She called on parents and other stakeholders to accord Albinos equal opportunities, in regard to education and social protection.

Ms Namutebi also urged for increased awareness campaigns to ensure Albinos are not kidnapped and sacrificed by criminal elements for witchcraft purposes.

Ms Rebecca Kadaga, the speaker of parliament who officiated at the report launch as a chief guest, supported the recommendations on awareness, census of those with albinism and legislation.

“I think the Teacher Training Colleges and health training schools need to train future teachers and health workers on how to receive these children with open minds because they are human beings too,” Ms. Kadaga said.

Ms Kadaga also explained that in the future the census should capture people with disabilities separately.

She said the process of a bill for Persons with Disabilities (PWDs) is underway but expressed disappointment that there are bureaucracies in the government.

“The Committees of Legal and Parliamentary Affairs, Equal Opportunities and Human Rights need to bring up the Motion to debate this issue on the Floor of Parliament as the Bill is processed,” she added.

Mr William Nokrach (PWD, North) described the report as spot on because it clearly shows how people with albinism are extremely discriminated

“All district counties should do an extensive collection of data for people with disabilities so that the government can take necessary steps to plan for them and sensitization is needed urgently to save people with albinism from social discrimination,” Mr Nokrach added.

Mr Jacob Oboth (Indep, West Budama South) said, “The issue of PWDs should not be left for just surveys but for purposes of planning, budgeting, and legislation.” He said that MPs need to legislate to protect a particular group of people who are threatened especially the people with albinism

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