World

Red Cross spending on Haiti's recovery called into question

Fred Sajous, a Haitian earthquake survivor armed with a video camera and a cause, is a man on a mission: to figure out how the American Red Cross spent the $430 million it raised for the disaster.

The former Broward Community College student visited the tent city across the street from the American Red Cross' Pétionville headquarters. Tent city leaders said they had not received anything from the Red Cross. With the organization's monthly report in hand, he went to a dozen more settlements.

"I couldn't find the $106 million," said Sajous, a 29-year-old mechanical engineer who left Fort Lauderdale for Port-au-Prince after being laid off last year. "I didn't see a single sticker or anything."

More than three months since the American Red Cross raised hundreds of millions to aid Haiti in the aftermath of the 7.0 earthquake that killed an estimated 300,000 and left 1.3 million homeless, the organization says it has spent about a quarter of the money.

But after consuming $106 million in the first 60 days, the Red Cross in the past month has tapped just $5 million more and has come under fire for what critics call anemic spending.

Other aid groups, members of Congress, bloggers and even a former board member are among the growing chorus asking what the Red Cross is doing with such a massive amount of money raised in such a short time.

Red Cross records are not public, so Sajous settled on registering a watchdog organization called Kontrol Aid and making a video about his hunt for Red Cross relief supplies, which he posted on YouTube. American Red Cross President and CEO Gail J. McGovern last week countered with an Internet video of her own, responding to those who say the organization lacks visibility.

She also scheduled a conference call with members of Congress, underscoring the agency's sudden drive to explain how it funded 43 percent of the global Red Cross efforts that assisted 2 million people, gave tarps and other supplies to 450,000 and distributed almost 24 million gallons of water.

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