The United Nations (UN) has been forced to remove staff from two districts in southern Malawi, following a vampire scare that has left at least five people dead.
According to a UN report, lynch mobs have been responsible for the killing of people accused of vampirism since mid-September, prompting the organisation and several other NGOs to relocate staff.
“These districts have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires,” the UN Department on Safety and Security (UNDSS) said in a security report.
Malawian President Peter Mutharika (pictured above) said the reports were “distressing and agonising”, adding: “This development has been of grave concern to the President and the entire Government”.
“Belief in witchcraft is widespread in rural Malawi, one of the world’s poorest countries, where many aid agencies and NGOs work,” The Guardian says.
The latest outbreak of vampire-related violence is preceded by a similar wave of panic 15 years ago, and is believed to have originated in the neighbouring country of Mozambique.
“In 2002, rumours began to spread that vampires were working with Malawi’s government to collect blood for international aid agencies. Vigilantes took it upon themselves to address the issue, stoning to death one man suspected of vampirism,” Newsweek says.