Growing Organ and Children Trade in Afghanistan

Many Afghan families are forced to sell their children and organs due to the interruption of international aid following the Taliban seizure of the country. Zhar Zardykhan stated in his report for GlobalVoices: “As peace and prosperity unravel, Central Asia braces for a surge of forced labour and sexual slavery,” the human trafficking market has grown exponentially after the Covid-19 pandemic, especially in Afghanistan. The withdrawal of Western forces from Afghanistan last year, severe restrictions on the Afghan economy imposed by the Western world, harsh weather conditions, an interminable drought and spiralling poverty rates are simultaneously putting the lives of millions at stake. Further, the armed conflict between the Taliban and the previous government in the Shahr-i Sebz area has forced thousands of Afghans to leave their home and cling to life in any way possible. In some cases, the region’s inhabitants are forced to sell their children and kidneys in exchange for a piece of bread.

According to the United Nations World Food Programme, around 23 million Afghans are suffering severe levels of hunger, and 9 million people are at risk of famine. In a statement published at the end of March, the United Nations stated that more than 97% of the country’s population could live below the poverty bar by the middle of this year. In an interview with The Associated Press, the UN humanitarian chief Martin Griffiths noted that the Afghan economy “is collapsing before our eyes” and urged for a massive humanitarian reaction. During a United Nations meeting last January, the refugee chief Filippo Grandi stated that “the international community must do everything it can to prevent a catastrophe in Afghanistan, which would not only compound suffering but would drive further displacement within the country and throughout the region.”

The selling of children and kidneys is only one of the harrowing consequences of the years-long war in Afghanistan and the Taliban takeover of the country. The conflict has caused thousands of deaths and the displacement of millions of others. The help of Western governments is essential to ease the effects of the war and promote a more peaceful route to peace and reconciliation. The West needs to send long-term assistance involving the public sector, unlike the short-term aid of bagged food sent by the U.S in the past. For example, it is vital to fund health programs which would help millions of people in need of medical help. It is also crucial to send funding to sustain the agricultural development of the country, which would fight the famine that is killing thousands of Afghans. Further, it is essential to free Afghanistan’s economy from the various and harsh Western sanctions and restrictions, so that the country can develop its financial freedom and independence.

Since the beginning of the War in Afghanistan in 2001, poverty has risen exponentially, meanwhile, the nation has battled harsh environmental conditions. This has been further accelerated by the Taliban takeover of the country some months ago, causing many to resort to organ and human trafficking. In the past decades, it has not been uncommon for families to sell their children, especially daughters, into a future marriage. It is possible to say the same for the organ trade, particularly regarding the sale and purchase of kidneys.

The Afghanistan War started in 2001 and was initiated by the attacks on the United States on September 11th, 2001, and consisted of three distinct phases. The conflict formally ended in 2014, but the tension has never entirely faded. Since the Taliban has taken back the territory that the United States conquered, more and more Afghan families are declaring that they are selling children at an increasingly young age because they cannot afford to provide for them. The organ trade has also changed, with kidneys’ prices dropping from four to merely one thousand dollars, given the increasing number of victims.

The Afghan conflict has had many consequences, such as the rise of poverty, the destruction of the Afghan economy, and thousands of deaths. After the Taliban takeover of the country the last year, the situation has only worsened. The difficulties created by the harsh Western restrictions have led families to sell their children and organs to survive and has accelerated poverty and uncertainty in the nation. To ease the challenging situation, the West must send long-term aid, aimed at a resolution for this man-made crisis.