A human smuggler, who plies his trade on the Mediterranean Sea smuggling refugees and migrants from North Africa across the sea to Europe, has confessed to Italian police that they sell refugees and migrants who are unable to pay for their smuggling fee to organ traffickers.
It is believed migrants who want to cross the sea from North Africa, have to pay the smugglers more than $1, 000 before getting a place in the volatile overcrowded boat. Those who are unable to pay this fee, but desperate to make the dangerous journey to Europe, are accommodated into the boat. The smugglers will pretend to provide help for them, but end up selling them to other smugglers.
These ‘new smugglers’ will then take the migrants, kill them and take out their vital organs. They then smuggle the organs to Europe where they sell to people who need organ transplants, at a very high price.
According to the man, Nuredein Wehabrebi Atta, who was arrested by the Italian police, many African migrants who want to seek refuge in Europe, but are unable to pay the smugglers for their journey from Africa to Europe, are killed for their organs.
Atta was held by the police in Palermo. The Palermo police said in a statement that Atta is a national of the African country, Eritrea. He was arrested in 2014 by the Italian coast guards. When he was arrested, police said he cooperated very well with investigators, revealing many secrets. The police said Atta has for the first time, provided a complete reconstruction of criminal activities of migrant trafficking involving operations both in North Africa and Italy.
It was during interrogation that Atta made this damning revelation about the dark activities occurring on the sea. Although he said he had never sold a migrant to organ traffickers, he admitted that some of his colleagues do. Atta revealed that the unfortunate migrants without money are sold for about $17,000 to groups, particularly Egyptians, who are very equipped for harvesting the organs.
Atta was granted witness protection in Italy. He is the first witness to be granted such a protection. Atta said what made him confess to the Italian investigators, is that he now wants to help stop the death of migrants. He said the shocking number of deaths among migrants attempting to cross the sea, must stop so lives can be saved.
Local media quote Atta as telling investigators “The deaths that we were aware of were a small part of it. In Eritrea alone there have been victims in eight out of 10 families.” Atta has since been sentenced to five years in prison.
Italian investigators said his testimony has helped break open a transnational syndicated network dedicated to migrant trafficking. The police confirmed the detention of 38 people suspected of smuggling migrants to Europe, from the intelligence provided by Atta. Those detained include 25 Eritreans, 12 Ethiopians, and one Italian.
Italy’s Interior Minister, Angelino Alfano said the authorities had dealt “a harsh blow” to the criminal network, and that the security forces will hit hard on them.
Recently, the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) announced that the number of refugees, asylum-seekers and internally displaced people around the world has hit 65.3 million.
Before December 2015, the agency said the figure stood at 59.5 million. UNHCR said this is the first time in the history of the organization that the number has surpassed 60 million.
The International Organization for Migration (IOM) has also announced that the first half of 2016 is the deadliest on record for migrants trying to reach Europe. In a new report published by IMO on June 30 2016, almost 2,900 migrants have died while crossing the Mediterranean Sea to Europe between January and June 2016.
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