International

While Ebola ravaged countries, our humanitarian officials engaged in $6m fraud- Red Cross

The Red Cross says it has uncovered several cases of fraud by officials during efforts to combat the Ebola epidemic that hit West Africa between 2014 and 2016, with losses totalling about $6 million (5.2 million euros).

In a statement, the Geneva-based International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it was “outraged”, adding that it would “ensure any staff involved are held to account.”

In Sierra Leone, the organisation said it found evidence of “likely collusion” between former IFRC employees and a bank, leading to a potential loss of $2.1-million.

Overbilling and fake invoices by a provider of customs clearance services in Guinea cost the organisation $1.2 million, while two other investigations in the country were underway.

The IFRC also said it had previously found that in Liberia, inflated prices for relief items and payroll costs had cost it $2.7 million.

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The organisation 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.”

It also said that since 2014 it had strengthened efforts to root out corruption in its operations, including introducing cash spending limits in “high-risk settings” and deploying trained auditors when sending out teams.

The Ebola virus killed more than 11,300 people and infected an estimated 29,000, mainly in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia.

The IFRC revealed that the operations established to contain the outbreak “were among the most complex in recent humanitarian history,” with several groups moving quickly to deploy staff and mobilise volunteers, and spending tens of millions of dollars on medical equipment and other supplies.

 

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