The United Nations (UN) has called on authorities in Malawi to do more and act urgently to stop criminal acts related to rumours about bloodsucking.
UN Resident Coordinator for Malawi Ms. Maria Jose Torres said this in a statement on Tuesday in which she also strongly condemned the justice attacks against persons accused of being “bloodsuckers” that are taking place across Malawi.
Torres said dangerous myths and misinformation are feeding these vigilante attacks, which constitute serious breaches of Malawian criminal law and human rights standards.
She commended efforts to date by authorities to arrest suspects of these criminal acts as well as local messaging to speak out against this senseless behaviour.
However, she noted that much more is required to stop this situation from worsening.
“The UN calls on national and local authorities to act urgently, including by conducting immediate investigations into all attacks; arresting and prosecuting alleged perpetrators; delivering social, psychological and medical support for victims; and rapid action to dispel the harmful beliefs that lead to these attacks.
“Members of Parliament can play an important role by countering misinformation in their constituencies, while religious and traditional leaders can send clear messages to their communities,” said Torres.
Over the past three weeks, two persons have been murdered in Mzimba; two persons burnt to death in Chitipa and one man murdered in Rumphi on suspicions that they were blood suckers.
In addition, 10 separate violent attacks have been reported during the same period in Kasungu, Ntchisi, Dowa, Mchinji, Karonga and Nkhata Bay. These attacks included violent assaults on police officers and health workers, as well as the destruction of buildings and vehicles.
On Monday, police in Ntchisi said they had arrested four people who were involved in the torching of a police unit in the district after the police rescued a person suspected of being a blood sucker.