Red Cross Workers May Have Stolen $6 Million in Ebola Aid Money
The deadly Ebola virus spread throughout West Africa from 2014 to 2016, killing more than 11,000 people and drawing numerous aid workers and medical professionals to the continent. Some of those responders, according to a Red Cross internal investigation covered by AP, fraudulently used funds earmarked for aid.
Total losses due to fraud topped $6 million, AP reports. The investigation says up to $2 million was lost to probable collusion between Red Cross personnel and employees at a bank in Sierra Leone; $2.7 million vanished due to fraudulent cost inflation, payroll and volunteer payouts in Liberia; and an additional $1 million disappeared through fraudulent billing in Guinea.
“I feel disappointed and concerned by the reaction of a few individuals, that their actions detract from the amazing work of the Red Cross staff and volunteers during the Ebola outbreak,” said Paul Jenkins, the head of the delegation for the International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies. The IFRC will refocus on anti-corruption efforts in the wake of the investigation and pursue legal action against lose involved, AP reports.
The Red Cross’ reputation was marred by another scandal this year. The organization was criticized for its relief efforts and handling of funds in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, prompting a Houston city councilman to call donating to the organization a “waste of money.”