Spain takes in first albino refugee

December 22, 2009 12:00 am

, MADRID, Dec 22 – Spain has granted asylum to an African albino for the first time after a 22-year-old Malian claimed he was persecuted by witchdoctor kidnappers in his home country, reports said on Tuesday.

Abdoulaye Coulibaly, who reached Spain\’s Canary Islands illegally in March and was granted asylum status Friday, says he escaped several kidnap attempts in the Malian capital Bamako, El Pais newspaper reported.

"Twice they tried to kidnap me to use my body," Coulibaly told El Pais. "I know they cut off the fingers and the hands of other albinos to use them in rituals."

Beliefs surrounding "white-skinned blacks" have been entrenched in some African communities for centuries and albino body parts, used in lucky charms, can fetch tens of thousands of dollars.

More than 50 albinos have been killed and dismembered in a spate of gruesome murders in Tanzania and Burundi in the past two years.

Tanzanian police estimate that an albino\’s body parts — limbs, genitals, ears, nose and tongue — can together fetch 75,000 dollars (50,500 euros).

"Here my life is not in danger. I have made my dream come true," said Coulibaly, who hopes to be joined in Spain by two of his brothers, also albino.

His asylum bid was backed by the Malian albino singer Salif Keita, who campaigns for better protection of albinos in Africa\’s Great Lakes region.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has also called for African governments to step up its defence of albinos and crack down on their attackers.


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