The Liberia Albino Society (LAS) has said that the society is facing multiple forms of discrimination, including stigmatization, social exclusion and primarily they are shunned from employment in both the public and private sectors.
The president of the Liberia Albino Society (LAS), Mrs. Patricia N.C. Logan, raised the alarm last Saturday during the celebration of World Albinism Day.
On 18 December 2014, the UN General Assembly adopted a resolution proclaiming, with effect from 2015, the 13th of June as International Albinism Awareness Day.
The United Nations Human Rights Council adopted a resolution in 2013 calling for the prevention of attacks and discrimination against persons with albinism and to raise awareness of their rare genetic condition.
Mrs. Logan said stigmatization and denial of employment are troubling and the society will continue to advocate for their rights.
“Due to our conditions we are thought of as being incapable or as being a burden. We are capable of working, so we call on the government and our partners to provide us the opportunities to work,” Mrs. Logan said.
She added: “What about the mandate President Ellen Johnson-Sirleaf gave to every ministry to employ at least two disabled persons including persons with albinism?”
Although she hailed the government for its contribution toward the welfare of persons with albinism through budgetary allocation, she urged the Legislature to increase its allocation to erect the “Albino Village” for the society.
A position statement to the Liberian Government and its Partners, read by Roosevelt K. Bartee called for their right to employment.
“This is against international human rights laws that guarantee non-discrimination based on color and the right to equal treatment for all and to safe, meaningful employment,” the LAS’ position statement said.
“We are calling on the Government of Liberia to do everything within your capacity to grant us the right to employment.”
The LAS’ statement urged the government to ensure that persons with albinism should not be discriminated against during employment by government agencies or private employers and to further ensure special protection of labor rights of persons with albinism in places of employment so that they are not
unduly exposed to the sun.
The statement further called on the government to provide sustainable education for persons with albinism and their families, undertake periodic census of persons with albinism and ensure their access to grants and loans.
“The government should undertake action in order to maintain persons with albinism in the local and national structure, including promoting their active participation of people living with albinism in socio-political and cultural processes,” the statement said.
The keynote speaker, Madam Esther Grant, admonished persons with albinism to prepare themselves for employment instead of joining the slogan for generation change.
Madam Grant, the Director for Rehabilitation at the Ministry of Gender and Social Welfare, urged albinos to be united and hailed Mrs. Logan for the level to which she has taken the society.
Persons with albinism are born with lack of the pigment melanin, which gives color to their hair, skin and eyes – they have thinner skin and are “lighter in complexion.” Their thinner skin requires them to staying out of the sun in order to avoid developing skin cancer. They also have sight impairment.
The Liberia Albinos Society (LAS) was founded in December 2009 by Mrs. Logan to seek the welfare of persons with albinism. It was plunged into a leadership crisis two years ago but the crisis was later resolved.