IFRC to Chinese public: Support quake relief

The International Red Cross and Red Crescent pavilion in Shanghai, China. Photo by: Kimon Berlin / CC BY-SA

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies has asked the public to support the Chinese Red Cross in its relief efforts for the recent Sichuan earthquake, amid claims of lack of transparency.

“Instead of attacking the Chinese Red Cross, we ask people to judge them by their dedicated and professional work to help vulnerable survivors of this disaster,” Martin Faller, head of IFRC’s East Asia regional delegation in Beijing, said in a statement. “This antagonism only serves to undermine its ability to help the survivors of this disaster.”

The call comes after a public storm earlier this week that saw Chinese netizens bring up old allegations of corruption and misappropriation of funds within the Red Cross Society of China.

In 2011, a scandal rocked the relief group after a young woman who claimed to be the general manager of a company called the Red Cross Chamber of Commerce posted some photos online depicting her luxurious lifestyle. The controversy led to questions about how the funds for the 2008 Sichuan earthquake relief efforts were spent.

“The public needs to recognize that the Red Cross is going through a period of dramatic transformation in every respect,” added Faller.

The statement detailed that the RCSC has been undergoing reforms to improve its transparency and accountability, with the creation of an independent scrutiny committee and an online gateway where it will post how donations are being used.

Continuous response

In Sichuan province, the RCSC continues to carry out disaster response efforts after the April 20 earthquake.

Devex reported on Tuesday that the RCSC, with a budget of CNY64 million ($10.3 million), has deployed over 400 staff and volunteers to distribute food, water, tents, quilts and other relief materials in Lushan County and other townships severely affected by the tremor.

Francis Markus, the IFRC East Asia regional communications delegate, told Devex on Wednesday that the priority for the delivery of relief supplies has shifted to remote rural areas as the roads became clear of blockages caused by landslides and debris.

This has allowed supplies from the RCSC disaster preparedness warehouses to be transported to the most vulnerable communities.

“RCSC is committed to giving particular support to the most vulnerable, including elderly and children, and trying to minimize as far as possible the physical and emotional discomfort people are feeling in this difficult humanitarian situation,” Markus said.

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About the author

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    Johanna Morden

    Johanna Morden is a community development worker by training and a global development journalist by profession. As a Devex staff writer based in Manila, she covers the Asian Development Bank as well as Asia-Pacific's aid community at large. Johanna has written for a variety of international publications, covering social issues, disasters, government, ICT, business and the law.

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