Senegal seeks to protect albinos against their biggest killer -- the sun

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African Albinos
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African Albinos
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (R) from Tanzania holds hands with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania talks with Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in his bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania looks at a book as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania looks out the window in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (R) from Tanzania sits on the lap of Elissa Montanati of the Global Medical Relief Fund in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania sit on a sofa in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania looks out of the window in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania walks into his bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L), Pendo Sengerema Noni (C) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) sit on a sofa in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania eats an apple as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania eats an orange as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania dances along as a video plays on a computer in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) put on their prosthetic arms as Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (C) looks on in their bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania eats an apple as he does homework in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania puts on her prosthetic arm in her bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania play soccer in the backyard in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
Children from Tanzania play cards in the living room in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a stuffed animal that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo (L) and 12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania play soccer in the backyard in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a stuffed animal she says she sleeps with at night to make her feel safe in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
12-year-old Mwigulu Matonage Magesa from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a plush heart that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
15-year-old Pendo Sengerema Noni from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
5-year-old Baraka Cosmas Lusambo from Tanzania poses for a portrait in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
13-year-old Emmanuel Festo Rutema from Tanzania poses for a portrait with a plush toy that he says makes him feel safe at night and that he sleeps with, in the Staten Island borough of New York in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri 
Mwigulu Matonage Magesa (L) and Emmanuel Festo Rutema (R) put on their prosthetic arms as Baraka Cosmas (C) looks on in their bedroom in the Staten Island borough of New York, September 21, 2015. Albino body parts are highly valued in witchcraft and can fetch a high price. Superstition leads many to believe albino children are ghosts who bring bad luck. Some believe the limbs are more potent if the victims scream during amputation, according to a 2013 United Nations report. Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting about one in 20,000 people worldwide who lack pigment in their skin, hair and eyes. It is more common in sub-Saharan Africa and affects about one Tanzanian in 1,400. United Nations officials estimate about 75 albinos have been killed in the east African nation since 2000 and have voiced fears of rising attacks ahead of this year's election, as politicians seek good luck charms from witch doctors. Picture taken September 21, 2015. REUTERS/Carlo Allegri
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DAKAR (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Albinos in Africa live in fear of being murdered for their body parts, which are prized in witchcraft for use in charms and potions, but albinos face a much more pervasive threat: the sun.

With little or no melanin - the pigment that colors eyes, hair and skin, and protects the body from the harmful effects of the sun - most albinos in Africa die from skin cancer between the ages of 30 and 40, according to the United Nations.

"The number one killer of people with albinism is skin cancer, not machete attacks and muti murders (ritual killings)," said Don Sawatzky, director of operations at Under the Same Sun (UtSS), a Canada-based charity that advocates for albinos.

In West African nations like Senegal, where attacks on its estimated albino population of 10,000 are rare, people with albinism are unaware of the danger posed by the sun or unable to find or afford sunscreen to protect themselves, activists say.

Out of nine pharmacies and shops in Dakar that were visited by the Thomson Reuters Foundation, four did not stock sunscreen. The others sold limited varieties costing at least 8,000 CFA francs ($14) - about a sixth of the average monthly income in Senegal.

Attacks on Malawi's Albinos surge:

Attacks on Malawi's Albinos Surge

Last year, Dakar-based pharmaceutical company Valdafrique contacted the National Federation of Albinos of Senegal (FNAS) with the idea of producing Senegal's first locally-made sunscreen - designed for people with albinism.

The company has made 5,000 bottles of sunscreen as samples to donate to albinos across Senegal, and the FNAS hopes the government will subsidize its cost to promote widespread use.

"Even if the state doesn't participate ... every day there's a need, we will make this product available," Valdafrique's head pharmacist, Madiagne Sakho, told the Thomson Reuters Foundation.

FROM SENEGAL TO MADAGASCAR

Albinism is a congenital disorder affecting between one in 5,000 and one in 15,000 people in sub-Saharan Africa, compared to about one in 20,000 people in Europe and North America.

Albino body parts are highly valued in black magic and can fetch a high price, with African witch doctors willing to pay up to $75,000 for a full set of limbs, according to the Red Cross.

Attacks on albinos in Africa rose at the end of last year, linked to a growing demand from political hopefuls seeking good fortune in the run up to elections in several countries, said the U.N.'s first human rights expert on albinism.

Yet skin cancer is a bigger threat for albinos in Africa, due to the burning sun and a lack of knowledge about how to protect against its harmful rays, said Ahmadou Aly Sall, a Senegalese albino who is the president of the FNAS.

SEE ALSO : Rare albino kangaroo seen in the wild

"We met an albino child whose parents didn't know that their child needed to protect himself against the sun," said Sall, adding that the child later died of skin cancer.

Most albinos in Senegal rely on donations from overseas charities to get hold of sunscreen, but more must be done within the country to improve awareness about albinism, activists say.

Many albinos do not know what to wear to protect against the sun, or that they should be vigilant around midday when the sun is at its strongest, said Sall, who always goes out wearing a baseball cap, scarf and long sleeves to cover his skin.

While people with albinism can receive free basic healthcare under Senegal's universal healthcare program, it does not cover the costly treatment required for skin cancer, he added.

Back at Valdafrique, the firm said government subsidies would enable it to ship the locally-produced sunscreen to African nations as far away as Madagascar.

The health ministry said it had met albino activists and that it was considering the production of Senegalese sunscreen.

"The will is there," said Mamadou Lamine Faty, head of the division for people living with disabilities in the ministry.

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