In a bid for survival, Syrian refugees sell their organs in order to gather enough money for smugglers to transport them to Europe.
A Syrian boy, identified only as Mayar, left his hometown when he was just 17 and moved to Cairo to flee the war-torn country. He is among thousands of Syrian refuges who moved to the city but remain living in poverty and are desperate. As a last resort the only option for a better life is to sell their kidneys.
“By God, I don’t know how much money I can make from my kidney, but I have no other solution. Life in Egypt is expensive,” he said.
He hopes he can gather enough money by selling his organ to make a journey through the Mediterranean Sea to Europe. The Syrian boy posted an ad on a Facebook page called “Sell Kidney Online”, where he described himself as “young Syrian man living in Egypt…O positive blood type… interested in donating my kidney in exchange for a monetary sum so that I may be able to survive my circumstances. Please reply as soon as possible.”
The Facebook page also has a price list that shows kidney rates from around the world. The price range, which is listed in US dollars, starts from $600 and goes up to $300,000 depending on the country the person is coming from.
According to experts, the organs are going to black market and money and profits from the organs is going into the hands of criminals.
“We're looking at bank accounts, where the money is actually going to, and that appears to be giving the pattern that we would expect from money laundering from some of the large criminal and terrorist groups," said Dr. Campbell Fraser from Australia’s Griffith University.
“Because we know where the donors are coming from, these are countries associated with terrorism, so Syria in particular," she added.
Duminda Wijesekera, a George Mason University professor, said, “These people who get this money are in fact working for the human smugglers to get people into Europe. It directly and indirectly feeds ISIS and the money flows have been traced — sometimes you do not directly give cash to these organizations, you pay the people who supply weapons, they supply fighters."
The sudden spike in human organ selling has gained attention of religious groups as well as the Vatican, which held a summit to address the growing criminal market.
Pope Francis also reached out on Twitter to comment on the growing phenomenon.
New forms of slavery such as human and organ trafficking, forced labour, and prostitution are true crimes against humanity.— Pope Francis (@Pontifex) August 23, 2016
As debate on human trafficking continues, for refugees like Mayar, the prime focus remains to survive and strive for a better future.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Marko Djurica