Where did the money go? An NPR and Propublica investigation has raised troubling questions about what happened to the hundreds of millions of dollars raised by the American Red Cross for earthquake relief in Haiti.
Goats and Soda posed a few questions to NPR correspondent Laura Sullivan about her work on this investigation:
What made you decide to look into the American Red Cross’s earthquake recovery spending in Haiti?
I spent a lot of time last fall with Justin Elliott and Jesse Eisinger from ProPublica looking at some of the problems the American Red Cross ran into in their disaster response to Superstorm Sandy and Hurricane Isaac and found the charity had put this inordinate focus on public relations that really hurt their effort to provide disaster relief. We found in one case the Red Cross diverted 40 percent of its emergency vehicles to press conferences and in another case drove empty trucks around to make it appear as though services were being delivered. After those stories, we started to hear from people about things that went down in Haiti. At the same time we started noticing that the numbers they were giving the public about how they spent donors’ money didn’t make sense. Since then the Red Cross has changed the language it uses around those figures. So with that in mind, we really started looking at the spending the Red Cross did in Haiti.
Photo: After the quake of 2010, a man stands on a rooftop yelling out for any sign of his missing relatives in a Port au Prince neighborhood. Photo credit: David Gilkey/NPR