American Red Cross Under Fire for 'Anemic' Response to Haiti Earthquake

American Red Cross Under Fire for 'Anemic' Response to Haiti Earthquake

More than three months after a devastating magnitude 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti, killing an estimated 300,000 and leaving 1.3 million homeless, critics are asking what the American Red Cross has done with the $430 million it raised for disaster relief, the Miami Herald reports.

Having spent $106 million in Haiti in the two months after the quake, the Red Cross has allocated just $5 million to relief efforts since then, the Herald reports. Fred Sajous, an earthquake survivor armed with a video camera, is documenting his hunt for Red Cross relief supplies throughout the country and is posting video updates on YouTube. Sajous insists that despite reports from the organization about how and where the money has been spent, "there is no evidence of [its] donations in Haiti."

In response, Red Cross president and CEO Gail J. McGovern made an Internet video of her own, assuring the public that "[the Red Cross] presence is being felt by the people of Haiti." In her video, McGovern said the Red Cross lacked visibility because it chose not to spend money by flying in thousands of volunteers who would need shelter and food — and that the organization decided against labeling supplies so as not to delay their delivery.

According to the Red Cross, it has allocated $55 million for emergency relief supplies, including $30 million to the World Food Programme; $43.6 million for shelter, including tarps; $5.5 million for water and sanitation, and $1.5 million for health costs. After the organization's initial flurry of spending, operations have slowed as it shifts its efforts from immediate needs to a three- to five-year recovery plan.

Red Cross officials also acknowledge that $20 million was allocated for materials to build thirty thousand shelters, which are on hold while the Haitian government finds land with clear property title on which to build them. "This is not a normal disaster where there is an emergency and then you move to recovery," said Nan Buzard, senior director of international response and programs. "We can't do recovery without people in homes. If the land piece isn't worked out, it is going to be like a big African refugee camp....[But] I feel good about what we have spent and where we are going."