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Afghans sell organs for living amid starvation

  • 26 Jan 2022

Living in extreme poverty has forced many Afghan families to make life-altering decisions to survive amid the looming economic and humanitarian crisis.

Harsh winter conditions are putting the lives of millions of people already living in poverty at risk. ( AA )

Families in Afghanistan have sold their children and their kidneys as more than half the population is having serious difficulties meeting basic food needs.

For many years in Afghanistan, people have been selling their kidneys without hesitation to get a piece of bread.

The interruption of international aid following the Taliban's takeover of the country and harsh winter conditions are putting the lives of millions of people already living in poverty at risk.

Thousands of Afghans, mostly Pashtuns, who have been forced to leave their homes due to a drought in the last four years and conflicts between the Taliban and the previous government in the Shahr-i Sebz region, around 20 kilometers from the city of Herat, are trying to hold on to life.

In the region, the houses made of mud and clay do not have electricity, water and heating systems. These days, when winter conditions are getting worse, most houses do not even have a stove. Those with stoves also burn plastic to heat homes instead of wood and coal. This can cause poisoning.

READ MORE: UN chief appeals for release of Afghanistan funds to avoid destitution

Kidney trade

A local resident, 38-year-old Abdulkadir, said he only drank tea and ate dry bread. He said he has no money to go to the hospital.

"I went to the hospital to sell one of my kidneys for 150,000 Afghanis (around $1,457). The doctors told me that if I had surgery and had my kidney removed, I would die. However, I want to sell my kidney. Our economic situation is so bad that I am ready to sell one of my children for 150,000 Afghanis. So I want to save other members of my family."

Meanwhile, local residents complain about a lack of jobs. Some teenagers and adults are begging downtown and collecting plastic and paper from the trash. Women also spin yarn from the wool brought by merchants. People can earn a maximum of 50-100 Afghanis (about $0.50-$1.00) per day.

Gulbuddin, 38, said he is currently unable to do any physical work because he sold one of his kidneys before.

He said he sold his 12-year-old daughter Ruziye for $3,500 three years ago and a kidney for $2,000 two years ago for the treatment of his wife, adding his wife's illness and financial difficulties continued.

He went on to say that he sold his other daughter, 5-year-old Raciye, for $1,500 last year, adding: "If someone comes and wants my eye, I can sell it so that my wife can survive."

READ MORE: Afghanistan seeks humanitarian aid without 'political bias'

Selling children

Living with her 70-year-old father, Bibizana, a 30-year-old mother of four said: "I sold my kidney. Then I had to sell one of my daughters. I bought the necessary materials for the house with that money. I wish I had not been born into this world. I wish I had never seen these days. My days are going like hell. I have to endure it."

With tears in her eyes, she said she did not know how much her kidney was sold for and that she was given only 50,000 Afghanis (around $486). 

READ MORE: ‘We need the economy resuscitated’: Aid can't fix Afghanistan’s food crisis

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