The remains of at least 14 adults and children, mainly skulls and bones, were discovered last month on a desert road in Egypt’s Nile Valley. Days later, a similar discovery was made nearly 200 miles away, according to a report in Al-Monitor. Along with a series of high-profile arrests, the grisly discoveries in Egypt again raised the specter of illicit organ trafficking in a country that has become a launching point for the migration of vulnerable people from sub-Saharan Africa to Europe and beyond.
Egypt has long been a destination for its troubled southern neighbors, such as Sudan, Ethiopia and Eritrea, whose people have fled war, famine, poverty and political turmoil. It has also been a hub for the organ trade, the result in part of the combination of “destitute Egyptians” and vulnerable migrants and refugees from other parts of Africa.
For years the Egyptian government’s response to organ and human trafficking was lackluster, but more robust anti-trafficking measures have recently put the country on the right track. In May and June 2016, the government created three specialized courts within the existing appellate system to prosecute human trafficking cases. Guidelines were also adopted in a number of agencies for victim identification and protection.