In 2010 Haiti suffered a devastating 7.0 magnitude earthquake that left a nation struggling to overcome the disaster, even today. Five years ago, the Red Cross launched into action to help rebuild and transform the areas that suffered the most. As a result, people gathered to support Haiti and the Red Cross from around the globe, providing a massive relief fund of five hundred million dollars.
To date, the population in Campeche, who were a main focus of rebuilding for the Red Cross Projects, is still yet to see much benefit. The intention was to provide basic sanitation, shelter, and electricity to the stricken area.
“Like many humanitarian organizations responding in Haiti, the American Red Cross met complications in relation to government coordination delays, disputes over land ownership, delays at Haitian customs, challenges finding qualified staff who were in short supply and high demand, and the cholera outbreak, among other challenges,” reported www.propublica.org, an investigative journalism site awarded with the Pulitzer Prize.
But the question arises, is land ownership and customs an excuse to misallocate an extensive portion of the donations received? As of June 2015, according to propublica, only six houses had been built in the area. Not bad for claims of helping over 130,000 people with accommodation with half a billion dollars.
The CEO of the Red Cross insists contrary to the evidence, by maintaining that Haiti is now better prepared for future disasters. “Millions of Haitians are safer, healthier, more resilient, and better prepared for future disasters thanks to generous donations to the American Red Cross,” CEO Gail McGovern stated.
The Red Cross have yet to disclose a transparent report detailing how the money has been spent, and in 2011 a memo was released outlining the failure of the Red Cross project in Haiti, outlining the lack of training to efficiently deal with the implementation of issues such as Cholera.
“Lacking the expertise to mount its own projects, the Red Cross ended up giving much of the money to other groups to do the work. Those groups took out a piece of every dollar to cover overhead and management. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses – in one case, adding up to a third of the project’s budget,” suggests Justin Elliott journalist for propublica and NPR Laura Sullivan.
This isn’t the first time the Red Cross has faced criticism for their ‘aid.’ When Hurricane Sandy hit the Caribbean and the east coast in 2012, Red Cross ran to the people’s aid with donations over $250 million. However, issues about the donations arose, not unlike Haiti. According to a representative of the Red Cross at the time, how spending was distributed for the Hurricane Sandy disaster was considered a “trade secret,” that if released “the American Red Cross would suffer competitive harm because its competitors would be able to mimic the American Red Cross’s business model for an increased competitive advantage.”
When propublica asked for Red Cross to comment and they declined, they decided to visit Campeche in Haiti to see for themselves, the projects that were reportedly put into place to help the community. What they discovered was a growing resentment with aid workers. Jean Jean Flaubert, the head of a community group that the Red Cross set up as a local sounding board, was one such member.
“What the Red Cross told us is that they are coming here to change Campeche. Totally change it,’ said Flaubert. ‘Now I do not understand the change that they are talking about. I think the Red Cross is working for themselves.”
However, what most people do not know is that the Red Cross gave an official answer to all questions on their website in an article, explaining where the money went to. You can read it here: http://www.redcross.org/news/article/The-Real-Story-of-the-6-Homes-Answering-Questions-about-Haiti
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