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Haiti relief fund slow to make grants

Oct. 20, 2011 at 2:52 PM   |   Comments

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WASHINGTON, Oct. 20 (UPI) -- Officials with the Clinton Bush Haiti Relief Fund say they have released money slowly because they want to make sure it is well spent.

But many donors are upset because they thought their gifts thought would be used immediately to provide food, shelter, medical care and clean water for those displaced by the January 2010 earthquake, the South Florida Sun Sentinel reports. With former presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush as its public face, the fund has attracted substantial donations and dollars raised by schoolchildren.

The fund, announced a few days after the quake, raised $49 million in 2010 and disbursed $7 million in grants, its tax returns show. While officials say the pace has picked up, records for 2011 are not yet available.

"We certainly are not trying to hold back our funds,'' Meg Galloway Pearce, spokeswoman for the fund, said. "We're trying to put out money where we can. We just want to make sure we do it in a smart way."

The Disaster Accountability Project reported that about $1.4 billion was raised for relief in Haiti within a year of the earthquake, and only half of it had been spent. As the second anniversary of the earthquake approaches, thousands continue to live in tent cities, and 6,400 died in a cholera epidemic.

"When billions of dollars are raised in relief and rebuilding, a cholera epidemic shouldn't then kill 6,000 and infect hundreds of thousands of others," said Ben Smilowitz, the Washington group's executive director.

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