Publicly it has celebrated its work but, in reality, the Red Cross has repeatedly failed on the ground in Haiti. An investigation reveals damning insider information that exposes the group’s dubious claims.
While the Red Cross tells the public and its supporters that its work in Haiti helped rebuild the earthquake-ravaged country and provide much needed medical care, a recent investigation shows it spent nearly half a billion dollars and has little to show for it.
The investigation, by ProPublica and NPR, details how a number of projects spearheaded by the humanitarian group either failed to materialize or the money was squandered on consultant fees and other overhead.
“The group has publicly celebrated its work. But in fact, the Red Cross has repeatedly failed on the ground in Haiti,” the report says. “Confidential memos, emails from worried top officers, and accounts of a dozen frustrated and disappointed insiders show the charity has broken promises, squandered donations, and made dubious claims of success.”
Some of those failures and dubious claims include:
- The Red Cross claims to have provided housing for more than 130,000 people when the real number is six.
- The group says it has helped more than 4.5 million Haitians (out of a population of 10 million), but Haiti’s former prime minister, Jean-Max Bellerive, says that claim is “not possible.”
- An internal review showed the group reported helping more people than lived in some communities.
- One project was so mismanaged that the local population “rejects the project.”
- It launched hand-washing campaigns even though the people had no access to soap or water.
In a final damning quote, one aid insider highlighted the failings of the Red Cross, admitting that while the group was happy to take donations from willing and sympathetic donors, it didn’t understand the needs of the people it was supposed to help or have the expertise to follow through on its promises. The story quotes a congressional staffer that oversaw Haiti reconstruction:
“They collected nearly half a billion dollars. But they had a problem. And the problem was that they had absolutely no expertise.”