Evidence-based Findings on African Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt
COFS calls for Investigations and Accountability
Washington D.C. and Cairo – 12 December, 2011
The Coalition for Organ-Failure Solutions (COFS) today released an evidence-based victim-centered report, Sudanese Victims of Organ Trafficking in Egypt which includes video documentation( YouTube Link ) of corroborating testimonies, ultrasounds and records from transplant centers.
COFS-Egypt has accumulated compelling evidence that organ traffickers have exploited and are continuing to exploit Sudanese refugees and asylum-seekers in Egypt. These abuses include removing kidneys either by inducing consent, coercion, or outright theft. In some cases, sex trafficking was associated with incidents of organ removal. The victims include men, women, and children. Many of the victims came to Egypt seeking refuge from the genocide and armed conflict in their homeland.
Based on its ongoing fieldwork, COFS-Egypt identified 57 Sudanese refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt who said they were victims oforgan trafficking. Each case involved the removal of a kidney. COFS-Egypt has conducted in-depth interviews with 12 of these individuals who described their experiences in compelling detail. COFS-Egypt arranged ultrasounds and physical exams for five of the victims as part of its follow-up care outreach services. These medical exams confirmed that kidneys had been removed in all five cases. Arrangements to interview and provide this care for the other victims are ongoing. Four victims also showed COFS’ field researchers documents from the hospitals where their nephrectomies and the transplants occurred; the documents included their respective identifiers.
Of the 57 victims identified, 39 (68%) are from Darfur, 26 (46%) are female and 5(9%) are children. The twelve victims COFS interviewed ranged in age from 11-36 years with an average of 23.5 years; four (33%) of the victims were 18 years old or younger; and five (42%) were female. Three of the interviewed victims said people smugglers/ traffickers helped them to enter Egypt and worked directly with the organ traffickers who arranged their kidney removal. Statements by some of the victims interviewed indicated that some women and girls are simultaneously being trafficked for sex and organs (9 possible cases in the sample of 57), and that the actual number of females in general may far exceed that of males. Thus,women and children are of special concern.
The processes involved in these cases include “the recruitment, transportation, transfer, harbouring or receipt of persons, by means of the threat or use of force or other forms of coercion, of abduction, of fraud, of deception, of the abuse of power or of a position of vulnerability or of the giving or receiving ofpayments or benefits to achieve the consent of a person having control overanother person” as defined in the UN Protocol on Human Trafficking and thus should be considered cases of human trafficking for organ removal. Further, organ trafficking is illegal according to Egyptian law.
All of the victims interviewed said they had experienced a deterioration of their health in addition to negative social, economic and psychological consequences as a result of the experience.
While the majority of the victims of organ trafficking in Egypt are of Egyptian nationality, COFS estimates that there are likely to be hundreds of Sudanese as well as numerous others from Jordan, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, Iraq and Syria. The total number of victims of organ trafficking in Egypt is estimated to be in the thousands.
The findings presented in this report include only living victim-survivors of the organ trade that COFS was able to identify. This report does not speak to claims of people who have died as a result of a commercial organ removal. This has special significance considering recent reports about the kidnapping and abuse of sub-Saharan African migrants smuggled into the Sinai Peninsula en route to Israel. The reports include claims of torture and removal of organs that have resulted in death and require urgent credible investigations.
In light of the findings presented here, COFS calls upon the medical professional community in Egypt, the transitional and future Government of Egypt, the United Nations, including the UN Human Rights Council, UNHCR, UNICEF, UNIFEM, and other organizations that provide assistance to refugees and asylum seekers in Egypt, as well as human rights organizations to recognize the recommendations in this report to bring an end to organ trafficking in Egypt and elsewhere. The present instability in Egypt and the region presents conditions conducive to all forms human trafficking. These matters should thus receive urgent attention.
The preliminary findings in this report are a result of COFS’ extended outreach project now underway for organ-trafficking victims in asylum-seeker and refugee communities in Egypt. COFS is in the process of ensuring that sufficient resources will be available to complete a comprehensive report on organ trafficking in Egypt.