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13 May 2004 16:47
Local authorities in northern Mozambique are silencing family members of the alleged victims of a human organ trafficking ring that is operating in the southeast African country, a Brazilian missionary said on Thursday.
Maria Elilda dos Santos, who says she was pressured to leave Mozambique because of her denouncement of the network, added although organ trafficking was first reported in the northern province of Nampula, it is, in fact, going on nationwide.
“There is no cooperation on the part of government organisations. On the contrary there is a huge effort to cover up what is going on,” she told reporters on her arrival in Lisbon.
“The attitude on the part of the government at the local level is to intimidate the surviving family members of the victims.
This is very serious because it causes family members, who were seeking help from the authorities, to withdraw.
“The identification of the problem took place in Nampula but today the situation is at the national level,” she said, adding it is more prevalent in the north of the country.
Dos Santos said on Tuesday she had received a letter from the governor of the northern province on Nampula, where she worked for nine years, asking her to leave Mozambique.
She was one of four missionary nuns who in February alleged that a network of organ traffickers was operating near their convent and orphanage in Nampula.
The four nuns said they had gathered testimony from would-be victims of the network who managed to escape, and had photographs of dead children with missing organs.
The nuns said they received death threats, and narrowly escaped an ambush, after they made their accusations.
In February a Protestant Brazilian missionary, Doraci Edinger, who also charged organ trafficking involving children was taking place, was found dead in front of her home in Nampula.
Local authorities in Nampula, Mozambique’s third-largest city, said her death was related to a financial scandal at her church but Dos Santos has said it is linked to the organ trafficking allegations.
“Sister Doraci knew too much and this is why they silenced her,” she told Portugal’s national news agency Lusa on Tuesday.
The Mozambican attorney general’s office, which examined 14 cases of violent death or disappearances in Nampula allegedly linked with the sale of organs, has said it found no evidence that human organs had been removed from bodies and sold.
The European Commission said last week it would give Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, €10-million to help it fully investigate the organ-trafficking allegations.
Body parts, including sexual organs, are commonly used in many parts of Mozambique, a former Portuguese colony, in rituals believed to bring good fortune and wealth.
Dos Santos said she will stay in Lisbon for a few days before returning to her native Brazil where she plans to continue to speak out against the alleged organ trafficking in Mozambique.—Sapa-AFP
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