Sierra Leone's albinos asked the government for jobs and scholarships to help them fight marginalisation Friday, as they launched an association to defend their rights.
At an inaugural meeting attended by more than 300 people, the Sierra Leone Albino Association (SLAA) said albinos in the west African country were "facing stigmatisation, marginalisation and harassment."
"Provide scholarships, grants and other facilities for us to become relevant in the society," they asked the government.
Albinism is a congenital lack of the melamin pigment in the skin, eyes and hair which protects from the sun's ultraviolets. Albinos are vulnerable to medical complications as well as social discrimination across Africa.
"The government and NGOs should come in to help us build up a sensitisation programme to educate people that we are not a bad bunch," said Cecil Thompson, a 25-year-old IT specialist.
"Although our situation is not as bad as in Tanzania ... we still think some attention should be paid to us," he said.
Since late 2007, more than 60 albinos, including many children, have been killed, their limbs hacked off and sold to witch doctors who concoct charms their clients believe will make them rich and powerful.
The government in Sierra Leone has no records indicating how many albinos live in the country.
Amnesty International's Solomon Sogbandi said the rights group was ready to "provide an enabling environment for their cause and act as a pressure group on government to ensure their social and human rights are enhanced."© ANP/AFP