By Sven Heymann (WSWS*) – Since the global financial crash in 2008, the worldwide illegal organ trade has increased dramatically. Until recently, those looking to sell parts of their bodies generally came from the so-called developing countries; now, the phenomenon can be found in large parts of Europe.
Anatomical study by Leonardo da Vinci | Wikimedia Commons.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2010 there were approximately 107,000 donated organs worldwide— both legal and illegal. Kidneys made up about two thirds of all transplanted organs.
According to a report inthe Guardian, WHO doctor Luc Noel expects that about 10 percent of all transplants are performed illegally. On the other hand, the California human rights organisation Organ Watch talks of 15,000-20,000 illegal kidney transplants per year.
But the transplants carried out represent only a fraction of the actual need. Only one in ten requests are currently realised, according to the Guardian report. The profits that can be achieved are huge, says Noel.
Gangs of organ traffickers conduct a million-dollar business in the illegal trade. Media reports consistently speak of up to US$200,000 dollars (€160,000) being demanded for a single organ on the black market.
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Johannesburg, (IRIN*) – For a couple of hundred dollars or less an arms dealer can illegally source a blank end user certificate with the required signatures and stamps – needed to transfer weapons across international borders – and “if no one checks its authenticity (often the case) he can ship his wares to the world’s hotspots with minimal risk, for maximum profit,” a report by the Small Arms Survey (SAS) said in 2008.
**Photo: Guy Oliver/IRIN. There are an estimated 875 million small arms in circulation
Since then “not much has changed” Glenn McDonald, based in Geneva and author of a chapter in the SAS 2008 yearbook entitled Who’s Buying? End-user Certification, told IRIN.
Arms spending has not broken step following global slowdowns and economic recession: In 2011 US$1.7 trillion was spent on the world’s military, says the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
There is no internationally binding agreement on the trade in conventional weapons, which according to civil society organizations results in fewer bureaucratic burdens on legal conventional weapons’ exports and imports than on such commodities as bananas, bottled water and MP3 players.
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Thousands of peoples from Haiti and other Caribbean countries have been risking their lives trying to escape by sea from difficult living situations in their homelands, the UN warns.
*Northwest coast of Haiti. UN Photo: Logan Abassi
“Continuing difficulties in Haiti following the 2010 earthquake are leading thousands of Haitians to flee their homeland each year, often in unseaworthy vessels,” said Melissa Fleming, spokesperson for the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR). “Although no firm statistics exist, it is estimated that hundreds of deaths occur yearly as a result.”
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