Spain mulls African albino's asylum bid

13th April 2009, Comments 0 comments

Officials in some African nations report a growing trade in albino body parts for use in witchcraft, with buyers willing to pay thousands of dollars.

Madrid -- The Spanish government has agreed to consider a request for asylum from an albino teenager from Benin who fears he will be killed in a witchcraft ritual if he is sent home, an official said Wednesday.

The 18-year-old, identified only by his first name Moszy, arrived on the island of Tenerife in Spain's Canary's Islands last week on a wooden boat carrying about 60 other illegal African migrants.

He made the request for asylum, which the government has now agreed to process, with the help of the Spanish Commission for Refugee Aid (CEAR).

The CEAR is also trying to get him released from the centre for illegal immigrants in Tenerife where he has been held since his arrival in Spain.

"In Africa albinos are considered to be a bad omen or a factor of good luck. It is logical that he fears for his life because among different ethnic groups his body may be used in a sacrifice ritual," the director of CEAR, Juan Carlos Lorenzo, told reporters.

Belief in sorcery is widespread in sub-Saharan Africa, where some witch doctors believe that a potion using albino body parts and blood can lead to wealth and luck.

Officials in some African nations report a growing trade in albino body parts for use in witchcraft, with buyers willing to pay thousands of dollars.

Albinism is a congenital lack of the melanin pigment in the skin, eyes and hair which protects from the sun's ultraviolet rays. Albinos are vulnerable to medical complications and social discrimination in Africa.

The Canary Islands, in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of Morocco, are a magnet for Africans hoping to reach Europe.

AFP/Expatica

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