When aid agencies last year realized that up to 10,000 migrants and refugees under 18-years-old were missing, many assumed they had simply escaped to other regions of Europe….
Now, the grim knowledge of what really happened to them. A human trafficker turned informant recently exposed a sinister ring where migrants and refugees who can’t pay their traffickers are sold to an Egyptian crime ring for their body parts.
Atta Wehabrebi is an Eritrean former trafficker who has turned informant and is now in Italy’s witness protection program. He told investigators that migrants and refugees who can’t continue to pay their trafficker’s fees are sold for their organs to a crime ring for €15,000. This past weekend, 38 Eritrean and Ethiopians were arrested in connection with the criminal activity. Now 23 people are in custody and 15 remain at large.
The migrants and refugees, many of whom are women and children, are generally sacrificed in the harvesting process, especially when multiple organs are taken from the same victim, according to police reports citing Wehabrebi published in the Italian press. Wehabrebi says some cash-strapped migrants are given an opportunity to sell their organs in exchange for their trafficking transport costs, but the majority are either taken back to Egypt or killed in Italy. The harvested organs are then sold on a lucrative black market to wealthy Europeans and Russians, Wehabrebi told prosecutors in Sicily. The trade in illegal organ transplants is on the rise across the world, aimed at meeting demand from wealthy people who don’t want to wait on long lists for available donors, according to the Global Initiative to Fight Human Trafficking.
“Organs which are commonly traded are kidneys, liver, and the like,” the organization says. “Any organ which can be removed and used could be the subject of such illegal trade.” This is simply murder for organs.
Wehabrebi explained that the victim’s bodies are disposed of at sea or buried in Sicilian ditches. The Egyptians have all the equipment to harvest the organs. According to police reports after the arrests this past weekend. “They even transport the organs in special insulated bags.”
In April, the bodies of nine Somalis washed up on the beaches of Alexandria, with their bodies cut open and vital organs missing.
Wehabrebi started working with authorities shortly after his arrest in 2014. He said he decided to cooperate due to the “guilt and anguish” he suffered seeing many of his fellow countrymen and women perish at sea.