The Red Cross reportedly spent $500 million to build 6 homes in Haiti

red cross
(Image credit: Alex Wong/Getty Images)

In 2010, a 7.0 magnitude earthquake devastated the Haitian capital of Port-au-Prince and the surrounding area, killing upwards of 100,000 people and causing major damage to settlements. In the year that followed, countries and aid groups around the world raised money for the relief effort to help Haiti rebuild.

But where did all that money go? A startling new report from ProPublica and NPR found that even though the Red Cross raised more than $500 million in donations after Haiti's 2010 earthquake and claimed to provide homes for more than 130,000 people, the well-respected aid organization only ended up building six homes there. From the report:

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. [ProPublica]

According to ProPublica, the Red Cross made a serious misstep when it decided to outsource many of its projects to other groups, a move that was hardly cost-effective:

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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. Even on the projects done by others, the Red Cross had its own significant expenses — in one case, adding up to a third of the project’s budget. [ProPublica]

In a statement issued in response to the report, the Red Cross detailed its accomplishments in Haiti and criticized ProPublica and NPR's coverage for a "lack of balance, context, and accuracy." Read the Red Cross' full statement here, and the full report at ProPublica.

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