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Aid agencies ‘exploiting Ebola orphans to fund lavish lifestyle in luxury $800-a-night hotels’

Gethin Chamberlain [ Mail Online ]

  • Aid agency workers living in fancy hotels while orphans struggle to eat
  • Liberia minister accuse agencies of handing out huge daily allowances
  • Thousands of orphans have been abandoned to the care of neighbours
  • More money should be directed to orphaned children, minister claims

Western aid agencies are using the plight of Africa’s Ebola orphans to fund a lavish lifestyle in $800-a-night hotels and leaving the children to fend for themselves, according to Liberia’s development chief.

Julia Duncan-Cassell
Julia Duncan-Cassell

Children who were forced to watch their parents die and were then shunned by their community are being ignored while useless facilities are being built, according to Julia Duncan-Cassell, Liberia’s minister in charge of saving the orphans.

She accused the agencies of handing out $235 daily allowances that are higher than her salary – and that the money invested is wasted on expensive hotels and driving around in big cars.

Meanwhile thousands of orphans have been abandoned to the care of neighbours and relatives who are struggling to find money and food to support them.

A MailOnline investigation has discovered that just 531 of Liberia’s estimated 12,000 orphans are receiving formal help in government safe homes despite the hundreds of millions of pounds of Western aid pouring into the country.

There is only one worker dedicated to tracking them down for every 66,000 people in the country.

Duncan-Cassell – whose department is responsible for the welfare of the country’s 1.7million children below the age of 15 – says: ‘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.’

She said the money was going to the wrong people because in the end it would be the government of Liberia that had to account for the future of the children, not the NGOs.

‘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.’

All over Liberia, there are orphans camped out with neighbours and relatives because no-one has taken responsibility for helping them. All have painful stories but few have been through as much as the five Kpaingba children.

Chancy Kpaingba, 15, watched his mother Catherine, 34, a bright and vivacious beautician, die in front of him after developed Ebola and were admitted to a treatment centre.

Now he and his four brothers and sisters: Odell, 17, Chancy, 15, Otis, 8, Josiah, 5, and Daniel, just five months old are alone. Their father Augustine died before Catherine fell sick. Mail Online