Italian Interior Minister Roberto Maroni has expressed concern that the trafficking of children's organs is taking place on Italian territory.
Addressing the yearly UNICEF assembly in Rome, he called for more effective means to counter this phenomenon.
Maroni warned Friday that hundreds of minors arriving as illegal immigrants on the southern Italian coasts every year disappear and this is evidence of an organ trafficking trade occurring in Italy.
Speaking at the yearly UNICEF assembly in Rome, Maroni said this was an extremely worrying phenomenon because it is unclear what happens to these minors. He said that of the 1,300 minors who arrived on the island of Lampedusa in 2008, 400 are no longer accounted for.
The minister said one of the most efficient ways that will now be used to combat organ trafficking will be the ratification of the international Prum Convention, which will establish a DNA data bank in Italy as in other European countries.
Maroni said the establishment of a data bank would allow the sampling of the DNA of minors so that data can be cross-referenced with information from their home countries.
The minister said that many minors who arrive in Italy are exploited not only for organ trafficking, but also for illegal adoptions and in prostitution rings.
The economic think tank Censis has warned that Italy is not just a transit country but is a final destination where transplants are taking place.
Reacting to the minister's comments, the director of the National Transplant Center, Alessandro Nanni Costa, stressed Friday that the Italian transplant system had no connection with the organ trafficking trade. He said no organ of unknown origin could enter the Italian transplant network.
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