Speed Reads


Afghans are selling their own organs to pay debts and avoid starvation

Afghans impoverished by their country's economic collapse following the Taliban takeover last summer have begun selling their own organs on the black market to pay debts and avoid starvation, The Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.  

The Journal profiled several Afghans who bought, sold, or are considering selling kidneys in the western city of Herat.

One, Gul Mohammad, borrowed money to pay for food and medicine but couldn't pay back his creditors, who threatened to kidnap his two-year-old son. Mohammad and his wife had health problems that prevented them from donating kidneys, and their oldest son helped feed the family by collecting plastic. So, Mohammad sent his second son, 15-year-old son Khalil Ahmad, to the hospital without telling him the reason. Doctors removed Khalil's kidney and paid the family around $4,500.

"The night I made the decision, I cried so much. It was the last option," Mohammad told the Journal. "No father in the world wants to sell his son's kidney."

Per the Journal, over half of Afghanistan's 39 million people "are now facing acute hunger, according to the United Nations, and 95% don't get enough to eat." Western countries imposed sanctions and froze nearly $10 billion of Afghan money after the U.S. backed government fell to the Taliban, and the flow of foreign aid has dried up almost entirely.

Writing for The Week in January, Ryan Cooper called U.S. sanctions against Afghanistan an example of "America's brainless addiction to punitive sanctions regimes that virtually never achieve the desired effect and too often inflict pointless suffering on innocents."