The EU and Haiti Fight Child Trafficking with Help from Lumos

Earlier this month, in launching We Are Lumos Worldwide, J.K. Rowling spoke about the work that her children’s charity, Lumos, has done to impact institutionalized children around the world. Now, we have learned that, thanks to Lumos, the EU and the Haitian government are teaming up to fight child trafficking!

A meeting between senior European Union officials and Haitian government officials took place in Brussels yesterday, September 27, in the European Parliament. The event was organized and cosponsored by Lumos.

This news comes with the release of a new report from Lumos, “Orphanage Entrepreneurs: The Trafficking of Haiti’s Invisible Children,” which discusses “the growing evidence of the risks of being trafficked and exploited, commercially and at times sexually, in Haiti’s orphanages.” In the official press release from Lumos, some startling facts are given about the children in Haiti’s orphanages:

There are around 32,000 children in an estimated 760 so-called orphanages. Very few of them are genuine orphans from the 2010 earthquake. Most are from very poor families, and a number have disabilities. More than 80% of those children have at least one living parent, and the vast majority have relatives who love and want them.

Additionally, Lumos’s report found,

[U]nscrupulous operators hired ‘child finders’ to go out and aggressively recruit children, at times paying pregnant women for their pre-natal care and then demanding the new-born as repayment or offering a small stipend to support other children. Others tell the parents the child will get an education in an orphanage – a false promise. They then malnourish the children to produce pictures of emaciated babies, which are put online with requests to foundations and donors to help ‘poor starving orphans’.

Lumos also emphasizes that only 15% of Haiti’s orphanages are officially registered with the Haitian government, while the rest operate outside the law. This lack of oversight allows children to fall prey to child trafficking, and Lumos writes,

The [Haitian government] has said 140 of the orphanages are so poor they should be closed immediately, and Lumos is helping with a three-year plan to try [to] bring this about.

One of the event’s hosts, Member of the European Parliament Mariya Gabriel, said,

The institutionalization and trafficking of thousands of children in Haiti represent a genuine handicap for the country’s future. It is crucial that the international community and primarily the EU use all available instruments to effectively help Haitian institutions to dismantle criminal organizations trafficking children, to protect children and promote their full inclusion in the Haitian society. It’s a necessary investment to release institutionalized children from the vicious circle of which they are prisoners and to contribute to the development and stability of Haiti.

Georgette Mulheir, CEO of Lumos, said,

In recent years, the EU has moved to ensure that funding for Members States is not spent on child institutions, which we know separate poor children and those with disabilities from families and harm their development. It is therefore welcome that senior EU officials are now taking the first steps towards helping Haiti, through international aid, to strengthen its judiciary, and law enforcement and child protection agencies, to boost the fight against traffickers.

For more information, you can read the official press release from Lumos below.

Official Press Release

Harry Potter alumna Evanna Lynch (Luna Lovegood) and Bonnie Wright (Ginny Weasley) also visited Haiti with Lumos to see the impact of the initiatives there. Below, you can watch a video from their trip:

#WeAreLumos: Evanna Lynch visits Haiti from Lumos on Vimeo.

What do you think of Lumos’s work to end child trafficking?