Missionary Who Reported Organ Trafficking Pressured to Exit Mozambique

Sister Maria Elilda dos Santos Returning to Brazil

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NAMPULA, Mozambique, MAY 18, 2004 (Zenit.org).- A woman religious in Mozambique who reported illicit trafficking in human organs left the country saying she was pressured to do so by the local authorities.

Sister Maria Elilda dos Santos told the news agency Lusa that she received a letter from the governor of the northern province of Nampula, where she had worked for nine years, asking her to leave Mozambique.

“I have suffered different methods of very strong pressure. For me there were no longer conditions to remain in Mozambique,” said the native Brazilian, who announced she was returning to her home country.

In February, a report by the religious of the Handmaids of Mary in Nampula informed authorities of “kidnappings and killings of many people, often children, victims of a network of organ trafficking.”

Their convent was located between the farm where the victims were taken and the airfield where allegedly the boxes of human organs are transported at night to be flown out of the country.

The report states that Sister Maria Elilda investigated the neighborhoods of Nampula. “She even discovered in an area of the city a body from which the eyes, heart, and kidneys had been removed,” the report said.

The religious recorded the scene on video and took photos, including of other clandestine graves.

Last month, in Rome, Father Claudio Avallone and Father Benito Fusco, priests of the same congregation, reported that since 2001 more than 100 minors had disappeared from the Diocese of Nampula, many of whom have been found in common graves with their bodies emptied of their organs.

The two priests contended that the local authorities have done nothing to investigate the grisly crimes.

In statements to the Rome Reports television agency, Father Avallone revealed that the religious have already received 190,000 signatures of support worldwide. Yet, the bodies of young people continue to be found “absolutely emptied,” and the police do not do their job, he said.

Threatened with death, the Handmaids of Mary in Nampula said they have escaped from at least four ambush attacks.

Last February, Doraci Edinger, a 53-year-old Lutheran missionary, who also reported the traffic in children’s organs, was found dead in front of her house in Nampula. Sister Maria Elilda said that Edinger’s death is related to the accusations.

In March, Sister Angelina Zenti, the provincial of the Comboni women missionaries in Mozambique, made an appeal to “break the silence” over the disappearance of children, the victims of organ traffickers.

In statements Friday to the press, Sister Maria Elilda spoke of the involvement “of the local authorities in relation to this crime,” and said that despite the growing number of accusations and the increase in international interest in the case, the situation in Nampula “is getting worse.”

Next week the missionary plans to visit the European Parliament to request the support of the European Union in the investigation of these cases.

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