Wednesday, 11 October 2017

UN, US pulls staff out of Malawi as mobs attack, kill suspected Vampires in the country

At least five people have been killed in southern Malawi after they were accused of behaving like vampires.

The UN says it has pulled staff out of two districts as the vampire scare sweeps across the south of the country.

“These districts have severely been affected by ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires,” the UN Department of Safety and Security said in a report on the Phalombe and Mulanje districts.

The United States embassy in Malawi has also temporarily withdrawn its team of Peace Corps volunteers from the four districts bordering Mulanje and advised its citizens not to visit the area.

In a statement, the embassy blamed “ongoing acts of vigilante justice stemming from rumours of persons attempting to siphon blood from local residents for ritualistic use.”

According to reports, the victims were killed by vigilante mobs who suspected them of drinking human blood as part of magic rituals.

A night-time curfew has been imposed by the government to prevent any more deaths.

The curfew restricts movement to 10 hours a day, from 07:00 until 17:00 local time.

The UN said in a report that the vampirism rumours appear to have originated from Mozambique, and spread across the border to the Malawi districts of Mulanje and Phalombe.

It is unclear what sparked the fears, but - according to a UN report seen by news agency Reuters - villagers had set up road blocks as they tried to hunt the "vampires" down.

As a result, it had instructed all staff to temporarily relocate to a safer area.

Malawian President Peter Mutharika has vowed to launch an investigation into the killings, with his office releasing an official statement saying the matter was "of grave concern" to the entire government".

The mob behavior is “distressing and agonizing” Mutharika said.

“This development has been of grave concern to the President and the entire Government,” his office added in a statement.

Many aid agencies and NGOs work in Malawi, one of the world's poorest countries,

Education standards are low, with belief in witchcraft widespread. A spate of vigilante violence linked to vampire rumours also erupted there in 2002.

 In 2002, women and children came forward, saying they’d been victims of blood thieves, and a man suspected of attacking people for their blood was killed by residents, BBC reported.

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