Well-meaning volunteers continue to unwittingly fuel the trafficking of children into orphanages, Lumos Chief Executive Georgette Mulheir warned today at a high-level event held alongside the Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in London.
The CEO warned that vulnerable children are separated from their families and placed in orphanages to attract funding, volunteers and donations from well-meaning tourists and foreign aid agencies.
“Parents are told that their child will have a better life and access to education in the so-called ‘orphanage’. But the reality is these children are not orphans and many are held in terrible conditions, exposed to all forms of abuse.
“These children are essentially used as bait to persuade well- meaning tourists to give their time, commitment and money.”
Georgette was speaking at an event co-hosted by the Australian High Commission and alongside Kevin Hyland OBE, the UK Independent Anti-Slavery Commissioner.
The Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs Hon Julie Bishop MP and Senator Linda Reynolds both spoke about progress in making it tougher for travel companies to support orphanages and for volunteers to work within them.
Kevin Hyland said that there needs to be a unified international response to voluntourism and that the Australians are leading the way with a tougher stance on voluntourism, suggesting other Commonwealth countries, including the UK, should follow suit.
As part of its campaign to end voluntourism, Lumos has worked with partners and will soon be launching a website offering guidance to the education sector, businesses, governments and volunteers around the world.