FRAUD by Red Cross workers and other people has cost at least $6 million (£4.6m) designated to fight Ebola in west Africa, the organisation confirmed at the weekend.
The revelation follows an internal investigation of how the Red Cross handled more than $124m (£95m) during the 2014-2016 epidemic, which killed over 11,000 people in Sierra Leone, Liberia and Guinea.
Ebola broke out in Guinea and quickly spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
The international aid response was initially slow and money, once it arrived, was often disbursed quickly in the rush to buy supplies and get aid workers into the field.
As much as $2.13m (£1.6m) disappeared as the result of “likely collusion” between Red Cross staff and employees at a Sierra Leonean bank, the investigation found.
It is believed that the money was lost when they rigged the exchange rate at the height of the epidemic.
The International Federation of the Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) said it was “outraged” by what it had uncovered and was strengthening efforts to fight corruption, including by introducing cash spending limits in “high-risk settings.”
It plans to send trained auditors to accompany emergency operations teams.
IFRC undersecretary-general for partnerships Dr Jemilah Mahmood said: “These cases must not in any way diminish the tremendous courage and dedication of thousands of volunteers and staff during the Ebola response. “They played a critical and widely recognised role in containing and ending the outbreak and preventing further spread of the Ebola virus internationally.” firstname.lastname@example.org