In a small town in the East African nation of Burundi, a group of people live in fear of being savagely murdered at any moment. They are always on guard night and day maintaining shifts of who keeps watch.
These people are not criminals on the run but victims of mother nature.
They are among a dwindling number of albinos who have been in hiding since early 2009 when more than a dozen of them were slaughtered for body parts that are later sold to witch doctors for use in potions.
Arms, legs and genitals are the most valuable parts, fetching a lot of cash.
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The witch doctors’ would-be customers fervently believe the potions concocted from albino body parts will bring them fortune in life, love and business.
I first broke this story on Al Jazeera in June 2008 when the gruesome trade entered the public spotlight after the killings of more than 50 albinos in neighbouring Tanzania.
Al Jazeera reported at the time how fishermen, traders and members of the business community working in and around Mwanza in northern Tanzania confessed to buying potions prepared with human body parts from witch doctors – and finding great success thereafter.
But now the trade in albino parts, which has led to the most profound and sadistic acts of violence, has spread to neighbouring Burundi.
The body of one albino brother was sold for a reportedly $240 USD. Considering the yearly income for some Burundi is as low as $10/year, that’s a lot of money.