Aid to Samoa

The Dom Post reports:

The Samoan prime minister is defending his country’s response to the devastating tsunami, denying claims of aid relief rorts and saying international relief is reaching disaster victims.

Tuilaepa Sailele Malielegaoi said yesterday that Samoan media had fabricated stories of corruption and aid diversion, including claims that some aid parcels were being sold off in local shops.

“Our media will print any story that anybody comes up with, and it is one of my contentions that our media should have come and analysed, followed up, the truth of these allegations,” he told Radio NZ.

But Porirua Deputy Mayor Litea Ah Hoi, who returned from Samoa on Saturday, said she had no doubt aid was being mismanaged by the government.

I always recommend that if people wish to assist victims of an overseas disaster, they donate to the Red Cross, for four reasons:

  1. The NZ Red Cross will pass onto the International Red Cross every cent donated towards a specific disaster. There is no deductions for marketing, admin, political lobbying or the like. In fact not even the cost of the telegraphic transfer is taken out of the appeal funds.
  2. The International Red Cross also does not deduct a cent for its own administration. The IRC (actually several bodies) funds it administration directly from grants from parties to the Geneva Conventions, foundations and member red cross societies. So every dollar earmarked for an appeal, is actually spent directly on field operations.
  3. The Red Cross has presence in 186 countries – basically every country on Earth. This means it doesn’t generally hand money over to Governments to spend, but they spend it themselves  through the local Red Cross (or Crescent) Society. This reduces corruption immensely. It also tends to mean a little money can go a long way, as the local red cross society tends to have extensive volunteer networks.
  4. The Red Cross doesn’t discriminate as to whom it helps. It doesn’t do politics. It doesn’t try to convert people to a religion. It doesn’t also operate as a left-wing lobby group.  The seven fundamental principles are why they are sometimes the only group allowed into war zones etc.

There are many good charities out there (Save the Children Fund is also excellent) and they generally all do good work. But for me, when there is an international disaster I always donate to the Red Cross.

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