lundi 27 juin 2016

A tarnished Red Cross

Published on June 27, 2016
In the wake of tragedy or natural disaster, Americans want to help. Many send money electronically or write a check to the American Red Cross.
What organization could be more solid? People have long trusted that the Red Cross would responsibly apply their contributions.
Not so, apparently.
A U.S. Senate investigation into how the agency managed a half billion dollars in donations for relief following the Haiti earthquake in 2010 not only raises questions about how the Red Cross handled donor funds, but reveals troubling details about its operations.
Sen. Charles Grassley (R., Iowa) has released a 300-page report so disturbing that a shakeup at the charity seems in order. Other members of Congress recommend an independent outside auditor — on a permanent basis.
● The Red Cross has long told the public that 91 percent of contributions go directly to clients in need. But this cannot be verified in the case of Haiti. There is no evidence for such a number. It was hype, a sales pitch, a lie.
● In Haiti, other groups were sub-contracted to do work the Red Cross lacked the manpower or expertise to accomplish. Much of that work was never done. But those groups charged another 11 percent in administrative costs.
● The Red Cross collected almost $500 million for Haiti and built only six permanent homes there. Six.
● The report says the Red Cross attempted to stymie and was not open with federal authorities.
The public first came to know what the charity was doing — or not doing — from media reports. Senator Grassley launched his investigation after learning about Red Cross handling of funding and other matters from National Public Media and ProPublica. The senator concluded that a whopping 25 percent, or $125 million, of the $500 million received from donations for Haiti, was used for in-house expenses.
Some 1.5 million Haitians’ homes were destroyed. Six homes is scandal.
The Grassley report reveals that additional funds were spent on oversight, to ensure proper use of Haiti aid. However, the senator’s office learned that the organization “is unable to provide any financial evidence that oversight activities in fact occurred.”
Senator Grassley’s office also said Gail McGovern, chief executive officer of the charity, made false statements as to whether it cooperated with congressional investigators. He said there was little cooperation with federal authorities, and that after a year of talking back and forth with the Red Cross, “We did not get satisfactory answers. It was like pulling teeth.”
The Red Cross could not even provide a complete list of all its projects in Haiti.
American Red Cross leaders have obviously forgotten that they are accountable to the public, and have a higher duty to keep faith with both their givers and those in need. It broke faith with both.
The American Red Cross has now been tainted and needs a complete leadership overhaul.
It also needs a watchdog.
Finally, someone needs to go to jail here. Fraud on the backs of almost unfathomable human suffering is about as shameless as shameless gets.

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