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Even as the Red Cross has publicly celebrated its work, insider accounts detail a string of failures. Goats rustle in trash that goes forever uncollected. Children kick a deflated volleyball in a dusty lot below a wall with a hand-painted logo of the American Red Cross. In late 2011, the Red Cross launched a multimillion-dollar project to transform the desperately poor area, which was hit hard by the earthquake that struck Haiti the year before. Red Cross Holds a Press Conference In Haiti. Today, not one home has been built in Campeche. Many residents live in shacks made of rusty sheet metal, without access to drinkable water, electricity or basic sanitation.
When it rains, their homes flood and residents bail out mud and water. The Red Cross received an outpouring of donations after the quake, nearly half a billion dollars. The group has publicly celebrated its work. But in fact, the Red Cross has repeatedly failed on the ground in Haiti. 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. The Red Cross says it has provided homes to more than 130,000 people.
But the actual number of permanent homes the group has built in all of Haiti: six. Aid organizations from around the world have struggled after the earthquake in Haiti, the Western Hemisphere’s poorest country. One issue that has hindered the Red Cross’ work in Haiti is an overreliance on foreigners who could not speak French or Creole, current and former employees say. In a blistering 2011 memo, the then-director of the Haiti program, Judith St. The Red Cross won’t disclose details of how it has spent the hundreds of millions of dollars donated for Haiti. But our reporting shows that less money reached those in need than the Red Cross has said. 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. Where did the half billion raised for Haiti go? In statements, the Red Cross cited the challenges all groups have faced in post-quake Haiti, including the country’s dysfunctional land title system. The group said it responded quickly to internal concerns, including hiring an expert to train staff on cultural competency after St.
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While the group won’t provide a breakdown of its projects, the Red Cross said it has done more than 100. It has not provided details to back up the claim. And Jean-Max Bellerive, Haiti’s prime minister at the time of the earthquake, doubts the figure, pointing out the country’s entire population is only about 10 million. Haiti in January 2010, the Red Cross was facing a crisis of its own. Michelle Obama, the NFL and a long list of celebrities appealed for donations to the group. The Red Cross kept soliciting money well after it had enough for the emergency relief that is the group’s stock in trade.
Doctors Without Borders, in contrast, stopped fundraising off the earthquake after it decided it had enough money. The Red Cross ultimately raised far more than any other charity. We asked the Red Cross to show us around its projects in Haiti so we could see the results of its work. So earlier this year we went to Campeche to see one of the group’s signature projects for ourselves.
Street vendors in the dusty neighborhood immediately pointed us to Jean Jean Flaubert, the head of a community group that the Red Cross set up as a local sounding board. Sitting with us in their sparse one-room office, Flaubert and his colleagues grew angry talking about the Red Cross. They pointed to the lack of progress in the neighborhood and the healthy salaries paid to expatriate aid workers. What the Red Cross told us is that they are coming here to change Campeche. Now I do not understand the change that they are talking about. I think the Red Cross is working for themselves. The Red Cross’ initial plan said the focus would be building homes — an internal proposal put the number at 700.
Each would have finished floors, toilets, showers, even rainwater collection systems. The Red Cross promised to build hundreds of new homes in Campeche but none have been built. Many residents still live in crude shacks. Everything takes four times as long because it would be micromanaged from DC, and they had no development experience. 24 million budget — and that it is due to end next year. I’m learning that the Red Cross is leaving next year. The Red Cross says it did tell community leaders about the end date.
The project has since been reshaped and downscaled. Some existing homes have received earthquake reinforcement and a few schools are being repaired. Some solar street lights have been installed, though many broke and residents say others are unreliable. The group’s most recent press release on the project cites achievements such as training school children in disaster response. The Red Cross said it has to scale back its housing plans because it couldn’t acquire the rights to land.
Other Red Cross infrastructure projects also fizzled. A Red Cross effort to save Haitians from cholera was crippled by internal issues. 30 million partnership with the U. Agency for International Development, or USAID. The agency would build roads and other infrastructure in at least two locations where the Red Cross would build new homes. But it took more than two and a half years, until August 2013, for the Red Cross just to sign an agreement with USAID on the program, and even that was for only one site. The program was ultimately canceled because of a land dispute.
Other groups also ran into trouble with land titles and other issues. But they also ultimately built 9,000 homes compared to the Red Cross’ six. Asked about the Red Cross’ housing projects in Haiti, David Meltzer, the group’s general counsel and chief international officer, said changing conditions forced changes in plans. The USAID project’s collapse left the Red Cross grasping for ways to spend money earmarked for it. Any ideas on how to spend the rest of this?
Jean Jean Flaubert says the Red Cross promised to transform his neighborhood. American Red Cross’ strategy and priorities, which focus on health and housing. 13 million effort has been faltering badly. Instead of making concrete improvements to living conditions, the Red Cross has launched hand-washing education campaigns. The Red Cross declined to comment on the project. The group’s failures went beyond just infrastructure. Throughout that year, cholera was a steady killer.