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No, United Nations has not warned of a black market for human organs in the Middle East

A screenshot with text claiming to be a “United Nations Alert” warning people against travelling to the Middle East due to a “booming” black market trade for human body parts in the region has gone viral on Twitter.

Part of the alert, which features the UN's logo, reads: "A kidney now costs 262,000 dollars (131 million CFA francs); the heart costs 119,000 dollars(60 million CFA francs) and the liver costs 157,000 dollars (79 million CFA francs).” 

The screengrab, shared by a Kenyan user on Twitter, includes a link to the United Nations Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC) site along with a call to “share to save lives”. The link leads to a page with a 404 error.

A 2020 global report by UNODC shows that the Middle East has a high share of detection of victims trafficked for the purpose of organ removal.

But did the UN issue this alert on organ trafficking? 

We checked.


‘Out-of-date information unrelated to current UNODC activities’

A review of the official UNODC Twitter and Facebook pages showed no results for the supposed “United Nations Alert” on organ trafficking in the Middle East.

We searched the link in the screenshot on the internet archive Wayback Machine and found an archived page of the UNODC website saved between 21 December 2017 and 27 January 2021. 

The claim seems to have mimicked the archived link, which acknowledges that there could be a desperate situation where traffickers exploit organ donors for selfish gains but it does not give prices of the organs.

AFP Fact Check has also investigated the claim. UNODC Pakistan told the AFP: “The message does not originate from UNODC and contains out-of-date information that is not related to current UNODC activities.”

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