UN Statement on International Albinism Awareness Day

Statement by Rene Van Dongen, Deputy Representative UNICEF Tanzania

on behalf of the UN Resident Coordinator(Alvaro Rodriguez),

on the International Day of Awareness for People with Albinism,

13 June 2017, in Dodoma Tanzania

Hon.  Minister of State in the Prime Minister’s Office for Policy, Parliamentary Affairs, Labour, Employment, Youth and Disability, Hon. Jenista Mhagama,

Honorable Members of Parliament,

Ambassadors and members of diplomatic corps,

Representatives of the Tanzania Albinism Society,

Civil Society representatives,

UN Colleagues,

Members of the Media,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

Equality … Dignity …  Justice  –  Kwa Kiswahili: Usawa… Utu…  Sheria

Great words, often repeated, and yet sadly not a reality for many of our fellow human beings, including persons living with albinism.

I thank you all for the invitation on this important international day to say a few remarks on behalf of the United Nations in Tanzania.

As all of us gathered here today know very well from articles in the media, as well as from direct contact, about the painful and heart-breaking, but also at times inspiring and courageous, stories that this country has endured regarding people with albinism.

The 18th November 2014 saw the passage, following a vote by the UN General Assembly in New York, of a historic UN resolution proclaiming June 13 as International Albinism Awareness Day.

The resolution instituting International Albinism Awareness Day has drawn considerable international attention, as well as awareness of the human rights issues relating to persons with albinism. Up until 2014, these issues remained of very limited public knowledge in many parts of the world.

The mandate of the Independent expert on enjoyment of human rights by people with albinism created by the Human Rights Council on 10 April 2015, reaffirmed that everyone has the right to life, liberty and security of person and that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhumane or degrading treatment or punishment.

It also recalled the universality, indivisibility, interdependence and interrelatedness of all human rights and fundamental freedoms and the need for persons with albinism to be guaranteed the full enjoyment of their rights and freedoms without discrimination.

We are therefore especially honoured that the UN Independent Expert will conduct an official country visit to Tanzania end of July this year to monitor and raise further awareness about these issues.

We in the UN, as well as all Member States, including Tanzania, are committed to the observance, respect and promotion of the principles and provisions of the Charter of the United Nations and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. It has become a beacon for those of us who aspire to a world where every woman, man and child is treated equally and with dignity.

This declaration can be summed up in the three simple words I started with:  Equality, Dignity, and Justice.

The UN has been active in Tanzania for over five decades now, working closely with the Government and in partnership with all of you to help improve the lives of its people by supporting and monitoring the implementation of recommendations made under the Universal Periodic Review and by working together on meeting the Sustainable Development Goals.  The UN is committed to and continues to work toward improving the respect and promotion of “all human rights for all.”

In this effort we greatly value the support and leadership of the government of the United Republic of Tanzania and we thank them. We would also like to thank the Tanzania Albinism Society and all other actors and institutions working for this cause.

The action plan that came out of the regional forum for awareness on people with Albinism, hosted by Tanzania last year, is a useful and inspirational document that UN country teams across Africa are now using as a reference point. We in Tanzania, as One UN, commit to the recommendations and to work in partnership with government, civil society and communities to address the most pressing challenges.

I would like to take this opportunity to commend the government of the United Republic of Tanzania for their sustained efforts to ensure human rights, specifically to persons living with albinism. The UN in Tanzania we will continue to partner with you to protect and help prosper persons living with albinism.

On this International Day of Awareness for People with Albinism, we want to highlight the importance of ensuring that all children, including children with albinism, are cared for and protected in families and communities that have their best interest at heart. Let us give some thought to the children with albinism who are still staying in the special centres away from their families and communities. Let us renew our commitment today to bring those children safely back to their families and communities, attending schools that can address their special needs.

As always, there will be some bumps along the road towards improving respect for the human rights of all. But provided we can maintain a spirit of cooperation and remember the goal of dignity and justice for all, the ceremony here today will be an important milestone in our journey.

Asanteni Sana

Thank you

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