The Canadian Red Cross is reassuring donors that their money will reach Haitians affected by Hurricane Matthew, despite online criticism of how the American Red Cross handled donations after the 2010 earthquake in the poor Caribbean country.
Some social media users are warning against donating to the Red Cross, citing a 2015 report, which found that the U.S. chapter of the international humanitarian organization failed to follow through with its promise to help rebuild Haitian communities destroyed by the 7.0-magnitude earthquake in 2010.
The Canadian Red Cross said donors can be confident that contributions to its Hurricane Matthew fund will reach those affected. The Category 4 storm brought 233-kilometre-an-hour winds and torrential rains to Haiti last Tuesday, killing about 1,000 people, according to a Reuters tally of numbers from local officials.
“Every dollar put in that Hurricane Matthew fund will stay there and it will be solely for the response in Haiti,” said Stéphane Michaud, director of international response for the Canadian Red Cross. “The money that goes into the Hurricane Matthew appeal, it’s all managed by the Canadian Red Cross.”
The 2015 ProPublica and NPR report found that while the American Red Cross raised nearly half a billion dollars for Haiti earthquake relief efforts, it built only six permanent homes after the disaster that killed more than 200,000 people. The report said housing projects failed for a number of reasons, including mismanagement, land disputes and a shortage of qualified staff.
Links to the report re-emerged on Twitter and Facebook over the weekend. The Canadian chapter responded to tweets about the controversy with links to its own donor report for the 2010 earthquake, which highlights the 7,500 new homes it built in Haiti.
Mr. Michaud said the Canadian Red Cross will continue to respect donor intent through its Hurricane Matthew appeal. He said that while more money is required to deal with the immediate needs in Haiti, there appears to be donor fatigue.
“There are many disasters impacting Haiti,” Mr. Michaud said. “Also, this hurricane was quick to start threatening the United States … so the media spotlight has not been on Haiti for very long, as compared to previous disasters, such as the  earthquake.”
Roger Annis, a co-ordinator with the Canada Haiti Action Network, said he fears the failed aid response to the 2010 earthquake, including the American Red Cross controversy, may impede emergency assistance for Hurricane Matthew victims. He encouraged donors to consider supporting organizations that will help Haitians build the infrastructure they need to deal with repeated natural disasters, specifically pointing to Partners in Health and the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti.
“If people are concerned about the long-term sovereignty and capacity of the country of Haiti to develop its own resources, I would recommend against the large charities, which in my view just perpetuate the conditions of poverty and of political instability that cause the country to be so vulnerable in the first place.”
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said Monday that a “massive response” is needed to help Haiti in the wake of Hurricane Matthew. The UN appealed for $119-million to bring life-saving assistance to 750,000 people in southwestern Haiti, one of the hardest-hit areas.
Canada has already set aside $4.58-million in humanitarian aid for Haiti and surrounding countries affected by the hurricane, including $300,000 for the Canadian Red Cross to help with emergency relief efforts.
With a report from ReutersReport Typo/Error