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Rowling appeal for 'trapped' orphans

Children's writer JK Rowling has urged an end to the "massive global problem" of the systematic institutionalisation of at least eight million children in so-called orphanages.

Her charity Lumos, named after a light-giving spell in her hit Harry Potter series, has released a new campaign video highlighting the plight of children to coincide with the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall.

The charity said unlike the Wall, the images of Central and Eastern European "orphanages" that emerged after the Iron Curtain had come down "have not been consigned to history".

It estimates that around one million children are still in institutions in Europe alone, many of whom are not orphans but whose parents may be living in poverty, are told to give them up because they have a disability or are victims of discrimination.

The 49-year-old author (inset) said: "This is a massive global problem - eight million children trapped in institutions around the globe. But it's a problem we can solve. I think all of us want to think that we've helped give the next generation the best possible start in life."

In a report, The Global Picture of Children in Institutions, Lumos cites figures from bodies such as Unicef, Save the Children and Human Rights Watch, and calls for an end to institutions in Europe by 2030 and the world by 2050.

By lobbying for change, the charity said it has managed to see EU funds directed away from investing in institutions and towards family services, aimed at keeping them together.