Syrian refugees sell their organs in hope of reaching Europe

A refugee camp in Turkey

According to research by German FAKT magazine, illegal trade of human organs is on the rise in Turkey. The “donors” are increasingly refugees from Syria, who need financial support to make a living by selling kidneys or livers. Buyers are well paying patients from the West or even from Saudi Arabia.

The organs are sold mainly online by illegal traders, for example on Facebook. A trader offered FAKT reporters, in a fake sale, the kidney of a refugee for nearly €30,000 – including a transplant in a Turkish clinic.

FAKT also interviewed several refugees on why they offered their organs for sale. Many of the interviewees said they wanted to leave Turkey for a better life in Europe and needed money to make the journey.

According to the aid organisation Pro Asyl, many Syrians in Turkish refugee camps are living under unreasonable circumstances, even though the European Union has paid Turkey between €700 and €900 million for the accommodation and basic needs of Syrian refugees.

The Turkish government has not clarified the exact usage of the funds, yet. 400,000 Syrian refugee children are still not in school, and there have been problems in the medical and social field, as well as accommodation and care.

The head of the Syria Coroner’s Office (CCN) Hossein Noufel announced that the body organs of thousands of Syrian civilians have been sold in the international black markets over the past six years.

CNN has reported that over 25,000 surgical operations were conducted in the refugee camps of the neighbouring countries of Syria and also the organs of about 18,000 Syrian refugees were put on sale in the black market since 2011, when the Syrian war began.

Dr Noufel pointed to the high prices of human body organs in the black markets, and said, “A kidney is sold for $10,000 in Turkey while the same kidney is sold for $1,000 in Iraq, but in Lebanon and Syria the price of each kidney is $3,000.”

International media reported in 2016 that the Islamic State (IS) group was also using organ harvesting, mainly from prisoners and hostages, as a way to finance its operations and save the lives of injured members.

Iraqi Ambassador to the UN, Mohamed Alhakim, said last year that the IS is trafficking human organs and has executed a dozen doctors for refusing to go along with its program.