MALAWI: Press Statement From The Minister Of Gender, Children, Disability And Social Welfare On Albinism Awareness Press Day Conference

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The minister of gender, children, disability and social welfare, Honourable Dr Jean Kalilani, on Friday released a press statement on Albinism awareness. In her statement she appeals to all people, Government and Civil Society Organisations to respect the rights of the people living with Albinism.

(Read full press statement below)

LADIES AND GENTLEMEN.

Since the past two years, the world has been observing the International Albinism Awareness Day on 13th June. The day was set aside by the United Nations General Assembly to reflect on the plight of persons with albinism and serve as an appeal to all the people, Governments and Civil Society Organizations to respect the rights of persons with albinism. Malawi first commemorated the day in 2015, in Mulanje.

The objective was to raise awareness and understanding of albinism in order to fight against discrimination and stigma against persons with albinism.

Malawi will, once again, join the international community in commemorating this year’s International Albinism Awareness Day whose theme is: “Together we can end human rights violations against persons with albinism.”
This year’s commemoration is meant to appeal to the general public to engage in constructive discussions in finding lasting solutions that would promote and protect persons with albinism, who are being increasingly discriminated by the day. The commemoration is also meant to appeal to the general public to uphold the rights of persons with albinism and commence the implementation of the solutions that would uphold their rights.

Ladies and Gentlemen

We have lived with persons with albinism in Malawi since time immemorial, they have always been a part of the Malawian society, but it is sad to note that myths and misconceptions about their condition have resulted into their discrimination and exclusion from our society. The country has been beset by a steady increase of physical abuse, abductions, killings and lately, exhumation of the remains of persons with albinism in a number of districts. This is a very sad situation, which has even limited the participation and contribution of persons with albinism to national development, even to their own right to enjoy life.

The commemoration of the 2016 International Albinism Awareness Day therefore hopes to:
Highlight challenges being experienced by persons with albinism in exercising their rights as equal citizens;
Lobby for funding for the implementation of recommendations towards addressing the current challenges;
Showcase contributions that persons with albinism are making towards national development;
Raise awareness on albinism issues targeting the general population and duty bearers with particular emphasis on the abductions, killings and exhumations of the remains of persons with albinism;
Promote ways of achieving inclusion of persons with albinism into mainstream society and;
Recognise different efforts and contributions from various sectors; CSOs, NGOs and Government towards addressing the abductions, killings and exhumations of the remains of persons with albinism.

Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen

The Malawi government is very concerned with the attacks, kidnappings, killings and exhumations of remains of persons with albinism. The government would like to assure Malawians and the world at large that it has taken measures to address the atrocities committed against persons with albinism. It is against this background that a call for stiffer sentences on the perpetrators of the atrocities has been advanced.

His Excellency Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika, President of the Republic of Malawi has strongly condemned the atrocities against persons with albinism; and called upon every Malawian to protect persons with albinism. To this end, His Excellency the President established a National Technical committee which is mandated to facilitate the implementation of the plans, strategies and initiatives to end these atrocities. My Ministry in conjunction with different stakeholders developed a response plan to address the atrocities which identified six intervention areas namely:
The undertaking of education, awareness raising and training activities;
The strengthening of internal security;
The undertaking of an investigative research including human rights monitoring and reporting activities;
Reviewing and enactment of legislation;
Promotion of fair administration of justice and victim assistance and;
The empowerment of persons with albinism through Association of Persons with Albinism in Malawi (APAM)
My Ministry is also working tirelessly to mainstream issues of albinism at all levels.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Malawi will hold this year’s commemoration on 13th June, 2016 at Kasungu Community Centre ground. Kasungu district has been earmarked for the commemoration because it is ranked second in the registered cases of killings and abductions of persons with albinism in the country. The commemoration event will be presided over by His Excellency the State President, Professor Arthur Peter Mutharika.

As we commemorate this day, let us all reflect on the barriers that our society has created for persons with albinism to participate fully in all socio-economic activities of the country. In addition, let us also discuss and come-up with solutions to eradicate these barriers. This commemoration therefore should provide us all with an opportunity to redouble our efforts to realize the vision of an inclusive society for all.

MAY GOD BLESS YOU

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