Long live freedom

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Thu Nov 13 06:50:37 MST 2003

NY Times, November 13, 2003
For Albanians, It's Come to This: A Son for a TV

DURRES, Albania, Nov. 11 — Fatmira Bonjaku's husband is in jail, accused 
by the police of selling their 3-year-old son to an Italian man in 
return for the television set that six other children watch in the 
family's dimly lighted room. The police also say her husband had plans 
to sell their newest born, whom she is breast feeding.

Mrs. Bonjaku, interviewed at her family's two-room shack on the 
outskirts of this port city, denied that she intended to sell her 
newborn but admitted trading her son, Orazio, thinking the Italian man 
"would provide a good life."

Over the past 12 years, since the collapse of Stalinism here, a 
substantial trade in children has established itself in Albania, 
Europe's most impoverished and long most isolated country.

No one has exact figures for the number of children involved, but the 
government estimates that 6,000 children have been sent abroad for use 
in begging and prostitution rackets, or in some cases sold to Western 
couples for adoption.

full: http://www.nytimes.com/2003/11/13/international/europe/13ALBA.html


Sunday Herald, Nov. 9, 2003 (Scotland)

Europe’s most desperate corner

In Moldova, the continent’s poorest country, kidneys have become 
commodities that can buy a better way of life, finds Angus Roxburgh in 

“I’ll take you up north,” says Captain Victor Pantelei, head of 
Moldova’s anti-human trafficking squad. “You can meet a man in a village 
there who sold his kidney. He bought a saxophone with the money.”
And so I join Pantelei and Vasile, his faithful lieutenant, on a drive 
through heavy snow and rutted roads in Europe’s poorest country, 
sandwiched between Romania and Ukraine. Their team is 20-strong, but 
woefully underfunded. “We haven’t got a single computer,” complains 
Pantelei on the journey. “We haven’t got proper equipment – and we’re 
fighting criminal gangs who’ve got everything.”

Victor doesn’t even have petrol for his car. I have to buy it. He earns 
just $100 a month, and lives in a room in a hostel with his wife and 
son. How is morale? “Great,” he says. “If only we had the technical 
means, we could rid Moldova of the traffickers.”

Almost one fifth of Moldova’s 4.3 million people are believed to have 
gone abroad in search of work and a better life. And a huge majority of 
those who remain, according to research, would leave if they had the 
means. With so little hope, the country has become a major centre for 
trafficking in women, and human organs.

In the town of Edinec I meet Iurie, a young man with dark stubble on his 
face. He looks tough enough to take care of himself. But tears brim in 
his eyes as he tells me how gangsters forced him to have a kidney removed.

He had gone to Turkey thinking he would be given work as a stevedore. 
Instead, he ended up on an operating table. He was sent home, $11,000 
richer, but traumatised for life.

Victor takes me to the nearby village of Oknita and introduces me to the 
mayor. “We live in sheer poverty,” he says. “Look at the village 
hospital over there. It used to be the best in the district. But there’s 
been no money for it for 10 years. They closed it down, and it’s just 
rotting into the ground.”

full: http://www.sundayherald.com/37903


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