Dismissed allegations against Red Cross

Posted on | januari 31, 2011 | No Comments

Shelter Progress
25 September 2010

NL-Aid received an alarming e-mail by Brother Gerard Haiti about mismanagement of International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC). They claimed that IFRC is not building emergency housing. According to Brother Gerard, IFRC is transferring money to criminal gangs in Haiti in order to enjoy protection in the dangerous neighborhoods of Port au Prince and in the rest of the country. The lists are not compiled by IFRC but by corrupt local officials employed by gangs. Reason for NL-Aid to do some research.

NL-Aid asked IFRC for evidence of emergency housing, by documenting the coordinates of Google Earth. Sebastien Kraaijeveld of IFRC Netherlands has put forward a list of 174 shelter constructions (see document above)


NL-Aid received a detailed list of targets and goals.

Sebastien Kraaijeveld:
• About 15,000 people (2889 families) are helped with safe and improved accommodations (reference date, December 2010).
• 2947 temporary homes are built in Port-au-Prince, Léogâne, Jacmel, Marigot, Petit-Goâve and St. Marc.
• IFRC wants to solve the accommodation problems of 30,000 families (150,000 people).
• IFRC has received € 890 million for support to Haiti.
• IFRC had received € 20,49 million from The Netherlands (Samenwerkende Hulporganisaties - giro 555-)


Matthew Cochrane (IFRC, Haiti), was very clear about the allegations:
• The allegations regarding gangs and corrupt local officials is wrong. I want to stress this very clearly. In all of our projects we work closely with communities. It is crucial that communities are involved in what we do. we need them to take ownership of the support we are trying to provide, and we also want to ensure that we can maximise the benefits for the community. For example, all of our construction is done by people who come from the local community. In that way we are providing people with employment opportunities and chances to learn new and valuable skills. And yes, by ensuring this community ownership, we can ensure that our sites and people are protected. Security is incredibly important in this country. We do not seek to work with gangs or gang members. However, gangs are a pervasive part of community life in Port-au-Prince, particularly in Cite Soleil and the surrounding areas. We cannot categorically say that we are not working with gang members, but we certainly don’t seek to do so.
• In terms of the beneficiary list: we choose beneficiaries based on vulnerability. We always prioritize the most vulnerable – that’s what the Red Cross does. At La Piste, where the land is owned by the government, we have begun to move families into our transitional shelters. The first 140 families are from the local deaf and mute community – a very marginalized group in Haiti and certainly a group that urgently needs support. The remaining residents on the site will also be chosen in terms of vulnerability (people with disabilities, the elderly, young families with lots of children, etc).
• About the coordinates of the houses: we don’t have GPS for every single house. We have coordinates for different project sites, but I’m not sure they are of much use. Oftentimes, shelters are dispersed across a sizeable area. Even when they are clustered together, you have the simple fact that Google Earth does not regularly update its imagery. As you know, they have only updated Haiti imagery twice since the earthquake. For example, there are now 198 houses up at La Piste with another 100 under construction or soon to begin. But the Google imagery is from November and only shows a handful of shelters. However, if you have colleagues here in Haiti, then we can take them to see as many of our projects that they want.
• Brother Gerards has not attempted to contact us here with his concerns. We would have certainly welcomed this dialogue.

We have discussed the communication of IFRC to Brother Gerard, but they do not respond to NL-Aid as well. Of course, it’s difficult to focus on documentation within the chaos of the remains of a shattered country. But, It still strange that only 174 shelters constructions are documented. Every house should be documented. NL-Aid wishes IFRC all best in their attempt to construct the accommodations of 150,000 people. We will continue to follow them.

Read more:
* Red Cross builds transitional shelters in Haitian capital

AUTHOR: Hans Sluijter
URL: www.NL-Aid.org


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