Malawi is experiencing chaos due to rumors which spread in September causing its citizens to believe that real bloodsuckers are creating devastation.
According to the U.N. report, the vampire rumors may have started in Mozambique, Malawi’s neighbor. The violence prompted UN to “temporarily suspend all U.N. activities in the area until the situation is normalized.”
In an email, Acting U.N. Resident Coordinator Florence Rolle, told Reuters that “some U.N. staff have relocated while others are still in the districts depending on locations of their operations.” Rolle did not give out additional details on the specific numbers of relocated UN workers and where they were relocated.
Lynch mobs were formed following the vampire-driven rumors. According to a U.N. Department on Safety and Security report obtained by Reuters, these violent mobs accused people of vampirism resulting to deaths.
“These districts have severely been affected by the ongoing stories of blood sucking and possible existence of vampires,” the agency said regarding areas in southern Malawi.
There have been reports of mobs roaming the areas, searching for vampires. The mobs have been installing road blocks and organizing hunts, causing concerns for U.N. workers’ security.
Malawi President Peter Mutharika said the reports of lynch mobs over vampire scares were “distressing and agonizing.”
“This development has been of grave concern to the President and the entire Government,” the office of the president said in a statement.
The rural area of Malawi where many aid agencies and NGOs operate believes in witchcraft. Reuters reported that violence associated to vampire rumors also erupted in 2002.
According to the CIA World Factbook, Malawi is one of the world’s poorest nations. The African country’s economy “depends on substantial inflows of economic assistance from the International Monetary Fund (IMF), the World Bank, and individual donor nations.”
“Population growth, increasing pressure on agricultural lands, corruption, and the scourge of HIV/AIDS pose major problems for Malawi,” the CIA said.