The United Nations has relocated its staff in Malawi after a vampire scare led to a series of mob violence which left at least five people dead. The presence of aid agencies and organization workers in Malawi has little impact to the people’s belief in witchcraft.
As per the Guardian, a report released by the U.N. Department on Safety and Security (UNDSS) reveals that the country’s Phalombe and Mulanje districts “have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires.”
The five people who had been killed were accused of vampirism. Vigilantes claimed that the ones killed were attempting to find humans whose blood they could drink to perform their rituals. The victims died in three separate incidents.
As per the report, mobs have been blocking several roads in the district in a bid to locate vampires. This prompted the U.N. to pull back its fieldworkers to ensure their safety.
Apart from the U.N., the United States embassy has also withdrawn its Peace Corps volunteers from Mulanje’s neighboring districts. The embassy said in a statement that the move was because of “ongoing acts of vigilante justice stemming from rumors of persons attempting to siphon blood from local residents for ritualistic use.”
No evidence of vampirism
Police spokesman James Kadadzera said that stories about blood sucking creatures in the country have no evidence. “There is no evidence about the blood suckers… we blame communities for taking the law into their hands,” he said.
The authorities have deployed more than 100 policemen following the killings. However, locals who believe that vampires are out to get them continue to search the streets.
It is believed that the new rounds of vampire rumors originated in Mozambique. Fear of vampires is not a rarity in the culture. In 2002, panicked citizens left their villages fearing that they would become the next victims of rumored vampires.
Locals then took the law into their own hands and killed a man they thought was a part of the blood sucking group. That time, former country leader Bakili Muluzi claimed that the malicious stories were purported by groups that aimed to destabilize the government.
President Peter Mutharika described the recent happenings as “distressing and agonizing.”
[Featured Image by Mary Altaffer/AP Photo]