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10 Charities That Made Things Worse

Updated on March 9, 2016
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10. Charity Kidnappers

Workers at French charity Zoe's Ark were imprisoned and fined for the attempted kidnap of more than 100 children - all in the name of charity. Aiming to re-home children who had become orphaned in the Darfur war, Zoe's Ark organized for hundreds of French families to pay the charity up to $6500, in order to adopt a war torn child. However, the charity workers were arrested before their plane full of children could leave for France. Investigations discovered that the majority of the children who Zoe's Ark had sourced were not in fact orphans, nor were they from the conflict region. They had actually been taken from their parents by the charity under false pretenses.

9. Kenya Clothes Donations

The Kenyan textile industry has collapsed and thousands of people have been put out of work since western charities began importing second hand clothes into the country. Since the 1980s, the Kenyan textile industry has seen a decline of 96%, as more than 100,000 tons of second hand clothes are imported annually into the country. The donated clothes are sold to Kenyan markets, removing the need for almost half a million shoe and clothes makers. The billion-dollar trade has swamped textile markets across Africa, causing 12 countries in the continent to ban the import of donated clothes.

8. Cholera Epidemic

In an attempt to assist with the earthquake relief efforts in Haiti, UN peacekeepers inadvertently caused a cholera epidemic, which killed 8,000 people. The UN peacekeepers had contracted the disease from an earlier mission in Nepal, and the epidemic was caused when a sanitation system at their base leaked contaminated fecal matter into a Haitian river. Due to the devastation of the earthquake, and Haiti’s poor plumbing facilities, the disease quickly spread, infecting more than half a million people. The epidemic caused reconstruction efforts in Haiti to halt and resulted in distrust toward the UN, who refused to compensate the victims.

7. Children in Need

The Children in Need charity, which is run by the BBC, funded the propaganda activities of the suicide bombers who killed 52 Londoners in the 2005 terror attacks. Between 1999 and 2002, the charity donated $40,000 to an Islamic school and bookshop, which were used as fronts to recruit and train homegrown terrorists. The extremist bookshop was run by the future suicide bombers Mohammad Sidique Khan and Shehzad Tanweer. They used it as a base to show terrorist propaganda films and radicalize young Muslim men.

6. Somalian Warlords

In 2010 the UN produced a report, which indicated that over $200 million worth of food was being used to fund local militia organizations, including jihadist terrorist group, Al-Shabab. The money had been raised by The World Food Program to fight famine in Somalia. Due to the violence in Somalia, aid organizers relied on local groups to monitor food aid deliveries, worth hundreds of millions of dollars. However, United Nations investigators discovered that instead of administering aid, corrupt contractors run by warlords were selling the food themselves. This made them some of the wealthiest and most influential individuals in Somalia.

5. Tsunami Rivalry

Despite a record breaking 10.5 billion dollars being donated to assist in the aftermath of the 2004 tsunami, relief efforts were hampered as rival charities competed to spend the donations. More than a thousand people from across 300 charities were involved with relief efforts. But in their rush to spend the money, they failed to work together or consult local people, resulting in the donations being wasted on useless projects. One charity spent aid money building inhabitable, sweltering, metal houses in the tropical jungle, while more than a quarter of fishing boats that were donated to locals were not seaworthy.

4. Savile Sex Abuse

British TV presenter Jimmy Savile used his status as a celebrity fundraiser to sexually abuse at least 60 people at Stoke Mandeville hospital. Savile was allowed to carry out his abuse at the hospital over twenty years, after government ministers appointed him as the chief fundraiser for the hospital’s spinal injuries unit. Despite Savile’s reputation as a ‘sex pest’, he lived on the hospital site and was given unrestricted access to the grounds. Investigations into the abuse found that he would abuse patients who were paralyzed from the neck down. He also raped an 8-year-old girl on 10 different occasions, while she visited the hospital.

3. Live Aid

Money donated to the Live Aid charity in 1985 was used to help fund a brutal resettlement program in Ethiopia, which killed up to 100,000 people. The Live Aid campaign raised more than $100 million to fight famine in Ethiopia. However, the military government that ruled the country used the donations to fund the forceful resettlement of 600,000 people from the North of the country. They argued that this would solve the drought in the North of the country. Victims of the famine were separated from their families and rounded up into concentration camps, where they suffered from harsh conditions. Tens of thousands died from malaria, starvation, and mass murder by the military.

2. Genocidal Aid

In the aftermath of the 1994 Rwandan genocide, the work of humanitarian aid workers prolonged the ethnic cleansing of the Tutsi [toot-see] people, by providing protection to the Hutu killers. When a military campaign eventually ended the genocide, 2 million Hutus - including those that committed genocide - fled across the Rwandan border into the neighboring country, then known as Zaire. Huge refugee camps were assembled in Zaire, which quickly became militarized by Hutu extremists. The Hutus commenced a second campaign of ethnic extermination, which led to another outbreak of war and the death of tens of thousands of refugees.

1. Afghan Bombs

A boy in Afghanistan had his head blown off after mistaking a cluster bomb for an emergency food parcel. When the US air force began bombing Afghanistan in October 2001, they also dropped thousands of emergency food parcels for civilians. However, the bombs and food parcels were similar in size and both wrapped in yellow plastic, making them almost indistinguishable. Children picked up the brightly colored bombs, mistaking them for the humanitarian aid packages. By doing so they would unwittingly detonate the bombs, killing themselves in the process.

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