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Red Cross 'outraged' over pilfering of Ebola aid millions by its own staff
13:46 04-11-2017
Red Cross 'outraged' over pilfering of Ebola aid millions by its own staff The Red Cross has admitted that millions of dollars meant for fighting the deadly outbreak of Ebola in west Africa were siphoned off by its own staff, The Guardian reports.

The organisation’s own investigations uncovered evidence of fraud, with more than $2.1m (£1.6m) lost in Sierra Leone, probably stolen by staff in collusion with local bank officials, according to a statement. In Guinea, a mixture of fake and inflated customs bills cost it $1m.

The Red Cross, the world’s oldest humanitarian organisation, said it was “outraged” at the losses but its statement did not contain any apology.

It said it was “committed to holding all those involved in any form of fraud to account, and to reclaiming all misappropriated, diverted, or otherwise illegally taken funds”.

Any immunity from prosecution would be waived to ensure any corrupt staff were held to account, it added.

An earlier investigation found that in Liberia the prices of relief goods and payrolls were inflated to the tune of $2.6m.

At first aid agencies struggled to raise enough funds to respond to the Ebola outbreak, which killed more than 11,000 people across three of Africa’s poorest nations, but after the World Health Organization finally sounded the alarm, billions of dollars began to flow in.

The Red Cross was giving out tens of millions of dollars in cash to its affiliate organisations during the outbreak, which began in March 2014.

The outbreak was finally declared over in early 2016.
Humanitarian disasters often provide opportunities for corruption, as large amounts of money flow through untested channels. Supplies go missing, and are later sold on the black market. In Nigeria, where Boko Haram has waged a violent insurgency for eight years, President Muhammadu Buhari recently sacked Babachir Lawal, a top civil servant, over allegations that he inflated the value of humanitarian aid programmes.

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