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Differently Abled-Refugees Living With Albinism



Kenya has its first albino politician, Isaac Mwaura. He is a representative of the Albino community in politics throughout his career, proving that Albinism shouldn’t hinder anyone from being who they want to be. Besides him is Grace Mumbi Ngugi. A female lawyer and judge of the Kenyan High Court serving under the Anti-corruption and Economic Crimes Division of the High Court. She is an inspiration to the country not just as a woman in a male-dominated industry but also as one of few albinos holding a position in the Kenyan government.


Despite the groundbreaking achievements of well-known albinos in Kenya, albinos still face discrimination within their societies. Stereotypes and myths about albinism fuel the divide between albinos and their communities, stigmatizing them from the general population out of fear & prejudice. Likewise, the false beliefs about albinos expose them to violence, kidnappings, and even murder. Reports from Sub-Saharan Africa show 422 attacks since the year 2000, including 162 documented murders of people with albinism and 260 cases of missing persons, assault, mutilation, rape, attempted abductions, grave violence, and other acts of violence (Protection Of The Rights Of Albinos In Sub Saharan Africa).


Albinism in Kenya is not properly documented. The estimates available on the number of albinos living in Kenya is about 3000, but this number reflects only those registered by the government to receive sunscreen (Africa Albinism Network, n.d.). According to OHCHR, albinism occurs across Africa at a rate of between 1 in 5,000 and 1 in 15,000 with certain tribes exhibiting higher frequencies averaging 1 in 1,500 (Kenyans with Albinism and Racial Discrimination). This means the number of albinos living in Kenya might be more than what’s recorded currently if we consider the possibility of those not registered by the government.


Over the years, violence within the East African Community has led to the rising numbers of refugees within host countries like Kenya & Tanzania. Families that arrived in Kakuma Refugee camp in the ’90s and early 2000s but were not relocated to other countries, already have children & grandchildren, in addition to newcomers, resulting in a population increase from a few thousand in 1992 to almost 200,000 in 2021. Among the population are small pockets of albinos who migrated with their families or alone to the camp, and those who were born within the camp. Take for example the story of Evariste, an albino from Burundi. His story proves that albinos living within the Kakuma refugee camps do exist and some of them live under protection due to death threats.


Albinos within Kakuma Refugee camp and urban centers like Nairobi City, still face issues of human trafficking, abuse, and discrimination outside of protection. Because of lacking legal frameworks on Albino protection in Kenya, the struggle to keep albinos and their families is still on. General humanitarian and albino-focused Organizations continue to urge the government to pass legal protection laws for albinos within African countries. The United Nations Human Rights Council has also stepped in to adopt a resolution in 2013 (A/HRC/RES/23/13) for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism. Read more: https://www.tuko.co.ke/388647-albino-refugees-threatened-by-human-traffickers-plead-protection.html

Fortunately, hope still remains for the future of albinos living amongst us today. Through combined efforts of private institutions, human rights organizations, supportive individuals, and local government, the full protection of albinos can be achieved sooner than we think.


WORKS CITED


Kenyans with Albinism and Racial Discrimination. (n.d.). From albinismsocietyofkenya.org: https://tbinternet.ohchr.org/Treaties/CERD/Shared%20Documents/KEN/INT_CERD_NGO_KEN_27123_E.pdf


Protection Of The Rights Of Albinos In Sub Saharan Africa. (n.d.). From Urgent Action Fund Africa: https://www.uaf-africa.org/protection-of-the-rights-of-albinos-in-sub-saharan-africa/





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