A government minister in Ebola-stricken Liberia has blasted aid workers living the high life in the poor West African nation, spending thousands of dollars on stays in top hotels, driving round in expensive cars and routinely earning more than even the highest paid in the nation.
Despite the millions of dollars flowing to the country to fight the Ebola outbreak, Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberia’s development chief has claimed much of the money is spent on excessive allowances for Western aid workers, rather than actually helping to alleviate suffering. Duncan-Cassell told the Daily Mail: “I feel sad, the children are being used for the wrong reasons.
“They [the agencies] are using the situation to raise money for their organisations. The money is paying directly for the NGOs – their per diem, the money they get per day, is even more than I make as a minister, the kind of cars that they ride, the best hotels. How many of them do you need to do that? We do not need an army of them”.
The criticism revolves around the treatment of Liberia’s orphans, who are becoming the long-term victims of the Ebola crisis as many have lost both parents to the virus. Duncan-Cassell’s department is responsible for their care, and there are more than 12,000 in the country. At the moment only 531 are receiving formal support, the remainder are in the care of friends and neighbours, or are on the street.
Westerners may get a good buzz from giving to health charities claiming to be doing good work in West Africa, but Duncan-Cassell claims they are using the images of orphaned children to line their own pockets. She said “Millions of dollars might be coming into the country but it is going to international organisations that are running their own institutions and their own organisations, not understanding the dimension of what needs to be done”.
One place doing very well out of the Ebola outbreak identified in the report is the Royal Grand Hotel in Monrovia, capital city of the former American colony. The hotel, with it’s VIP services, bars, three restaurants and roof terrace is a favourite spot for NGO employees. Flying the European Union, United Nations and American flags outside, it charges up to $800 a night.
The present Ebola outbreak has killed nearly 5,200 across West Africa and other affected nations including the United States. While it has been brought under control in some areas such as Nigeria, it appears to be accelerating in others, such as Sierra Leone, the former British colony. New Ebola-zone Mali is now on high alert, as they race to prevent a small outbreak in their capital becoming a major event. Nearly 600 are under surveillance there after coming into contact with the infected.