Vampire scare has triggered U.N. pullout from southern Malawi

Alfredo Martinez, a mail man for the U.S. Postal Service delivers the mail at an area damaged by Hurricane Maria in San Juan, Puerto Rico. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Vastavam web: The United Nations said on Monday it has pulled staff out of two districts in southern Malawi where a vampire scare has triggered mob violence in which at least five people have been killed.Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, where many aid agencies and NGOs work. A spate of vigilante violence linked to a vampire rumours also erupted in Malawi in 2002.The Acting UN Resident Coordinator, Florence Rolle, said in an emailed response to questions that based on the report that “some UN staff have relocated while others are still in the districts depending on locations of their operations”.

“UNDSS is continuing to monitor the situation closely to ensure all affected UN staff are back in the field as soon as possible,” Rolle said.The UNDSS report said at least five people had been killed in the area since mid-September by lynch mobs accusing them of vampirism. It said mobs searching for vampires have been mounting road blocks in the district, raising security concerns.The UNDSS report said the vampirism rumours appear to have originated in neighbouring Mozambique, although it was not clear what had sparked them. It recommended the “temporary suspension of U.N. activities in the area until the situation is normalized”.