- United Nations Children's Fund has called for better protection of Albino children in Burundi following murder and mutilation of a six-year-old girl last weekend.
UNICEF said media reports have revealed that a girl was shot dead over the weekend in Burundi's eastern province of Ruyigi, close to the border with Tanzania, and then her head and limbs were removed by her attackers.
In recent months, albinos have been targeted and killed in Burundi and Tanzania and their body parts are allegedly traded with witchdoctors. Her death is the latest in a series of killings of albinos in Great Lakes region and follows murder of a 14-year-girl in early September.
It said a dragging discrimination against albinos and marginalisation across Africa's Great Lakes region, have also forced UN Development Programme sponsored workshop in Democratic Republic of Congo in August in a bid to improve their rights.
Communication specialist for UNICEF in Burundi Olalekan Ajia said rumours around Albino body parts can be traced to Tanzania.
He said Tanzania government quickly took action and made it a capital crime for anybody to kill albinos. "Witchdoctors and so on moved on to Burundi, where there's a lot of poverty, and got some people who are completely dislocated mentally and psychologically to begin to hunt for albinos," he said.
Mr Ajia said Burundian authorities have responded quickly to recent wave of attacks, passing laws similar to those in Tanzania and offering a safe house in at least one province for albino children.
"No one has been arrested over the weekend attack, but two male suspects relating to an earlier case have been captured and taken to court," he said.
He noted that many albinos remain extremely fearful about their safety and are asking government to do more to protect them.
UNICEF, which has strongly condemned attacks, is working with governors of some Burundian provinces to protect albinos, provide them with non-food items and ensure children can still attend school.
"And we are working with [the] government to raise awareness around the country to explode the myth that using body parts or blood can make anybody rich," according to Mr Ajia.
Since last year, 30 albinos have been killed in Tanzania and four in Burundi, according to data from an albino advocacy group in Tanzania.
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