Yemenis, already facing tough economic conditions in the wake of political turmoil have been turning to organ trafficking as a means of economic necessity as revealed in an Al Jazeera investigation. Officials in Yemen’s embassy in Cairo have been involved in organ trafficking rings between the two countries which started in the latter half of 2014. The role played by brokers who traffic Yemenis into Cairo with the promise of $5000 for organ trade has grown steadily and bears serious considerations for Yemeni human rights.
The founder of the Yemeni Organisation for Combating Human Trafficking, Nabil al-Fadhil conclusively proved the role of the Yemeni Embassy in Cairo “where there were laws being broken and our embassy could’ve acted, but just denied it”. He added, “they acted like they would do what was necessary, but they didn’t”, saying that “The Embassy is still involved to this day because this business makes them a lot of money”. When contacted, the Yemeni Embassy in Cairo said that “the only thing the Embassy does is address medical authorities and only after the documents required by the Egyptian Ministry of Health and Egyptian Courts have been completed” – a non-answer if an answer at all.
The actions of both the Egyptian Courts and Yemeni Embassy in Cairo, as well as the brokers themselves, point towards chronic neglect of the human rights of Yemeni citizens. Not only did the investigation by Al Jazeera point to complacency on the part of the Yemeni embassy, but it also highlighted the apparent lack of consideration for the welfare of its own citizens in a foreign country. It seems that the reason why the Embassy in Cairo gave a vague response to Al Jazeera was due to the fact that Yemeni Embassy officials were willing to be paid for doctored papers that claimed legitimate nationality and familial status. This displayed a high level of corruption that the Government refused to address.
The trade itself provides an incentive for the Embassy to neglect the considerations of its citizens and form a profiteering venture. One also has to consider the dire state of the Yemeni situation, where revolutionary Houthis took over the government in early 2015/late 2014, essentially suspending the operations of conventional inter-state matters. It is alleged that Yemeni Embassy officials along with brokers in Egypt and Yemen have worked in conjunction with one another to build a ring that sought to subvert the course of human rights considerations. Implications of the report by Al Jazeera suggest that the Mukhabarat Hospital (Wadi El Neel Hospital) was consistently the subject of investigation by al-Fadhil’s organisation. While the Egyptian government has prosecuted and shut down a good deal of trafficking rings, some remain in operation – the Mukhabarat Hospital being one of them.
While the region itself deals with the ongoing effects of Saudi Arabia led Coalition airstrikes and blockades, one must entertain the notion that more civilian casualties are expected. Current estimates for civilians affected by the events in Yemen are approximately 17 million with estimates for total deaths at roughly 85 thousand. The organ trafficking trade between Yemen and Egypt has affected 1000 individuals, 900 of whom have returned to Yemen as brokers. However, estimates for organ trades are a lot higher, reaching up to hundreds of thousands. The airstrikes have led to total devastation of infrastructure, particularly water and sewage outlets which has led to a cholera outbreak. The Yemeni-Egypt organ trade has taken place in the background, therefore meaning a total restructuring of the Yemeni government – a return to the rule of law would be best – if not for the removal of blockades and the cessation of airstrikes.