An alarming revelation confirms that a number of children from different parts of the world are fleeing to the UK to escape from the most gruesome form of human trafficking – forced organ harvesting by criminal gangs.
According to the 2018 Global Report on Human Trafficking, presented by the UN Office of Drugs and Crime (UNODC), there is an increase in the number of reported trafficking victims; the number increased by 40% in 2016 when compared to 2011. While trafficking for slavery, forced marriage, and sexual exploitation are on the rise, organs harvesting is also one of the dirty forms of the same heinous crime.
Some of the most sought-after organs include lungs, kidneys, livers, hearts, and corneas, and they attract a hefty price on the global black market. Most of the times, criminal gangs victimize political prisoners or helpless and needy people.
Around 20 children and adults have been reported to UK authorities in recent years. 2018 saw a considerable number of suspected victims appealing that they had been subjected to this ghastly and traumatic form of human trafficking and modern slavery.
According to Analysis of National Crime Agency (NCA) data of 2015, five people were reported to authorities, having asserted that they were under threat of being killed for their organs. In 2018, this number increased to six - four children and two adults. And it marks the highest in the last seven years.
Mike Emberson, a former CEO of The Medaille Trust, the anti-trafficking charity, and an independent specialist on human trafficking and modern slavery, said that it is tough to deduce much information from such low numbers. But, it might indicate an increase in the number of such cases or authorities might be doing a better job at recognizing signs.
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"What I do suggest, and suggest strongly, is that these figures are very, very low and it is likely given the scale of the organ trade around the world (of which China is a significant but not the sole actor)," he said. "The recent reports of the scale of OCG [organised crime group] activity in the UK and the various diasporas in the UK who may constitute a significant tranche of the customer base, that we are in the cliched area of 'the tip of the iceberg.'"
He feels that it is time when NCA and other law enforcement agencies must take up more effective operations, rather than reactive actions instigated after victims are discovered. These victims fall prey to organ harvesting in an array of countries including Albania, Vietnam, Iran, China, and Ethiopia. Human trafficking is a part of organized crime, and it needs to be addressed as a global issue.