The United States Embassy in Malawi has advised its citizens in Malawi to avoid traveling to Blantyre and Zomba districts following violence over reports of blood sucking.
The Embassy in September advised US citizens not travel to Mulanje and to exercise extreme caution if traveling to Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, and Phalombe Districts.
Now the Embassy has increased the number of places Americans should avoid, urging US citizens in Malawi to be careful when going to Blantyre and Zomba districts.
“We strongly encourage U.S. citizens to avoid travel to Mulanje District and exercise extreme caution if traveling to Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, and Phalombe Districts, as well as rural parts of Blantyre and Zomba districts,” says a Security Message for U.S. Citizens the Embassy released on October 18.
The Embassy already banned its staff from going to Mulanje due to the ongoing acts of vigilante justice stemming from rumours of persons attempting to steal blood from local residents for ritualistic use.
“Additionally, U.S. Embassy personnel now require explicit permission to travel to Thyolo, Chiradzulu, Nsanje, and Phalombe Districts, as well as rural parts of Blantyre and Zomba districts, due to reports of intimidation, high tensions, and vigilante justice in those areas stemming from the same rumours,” says the message.
Since September 15th at least seven people have been murdered in the Southern Region of Malawi for being or collaborating with suspected “blood suckers” along with multiple injuries, property damage, threats and acts of intimidation.
Recently, President Peter Mutharika conducted interface meetings with people in Mulanje, Chiradzulu, Phalombe, and Nsanje where he warned that his government would sternly deal with anyone caught perpetrating the crime.
He added that his government will deploy more police officers into the districts.
“If anyone is caught in relation to blood sucking rumours, he or she will face a severe penalty because the situation is hindering progress in the country,” Mutharika said.
The Malawi leader also called on religious leaders to intervene into the matter through prayers to end the myths of blood sucking that have rocked parts of the country.