Solomons Red Cross Criticized For Expensive Housing Bills

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Staff staying in hotel while flood victims still in evacuation centers

By Daniel Namosuaia

HONIARA, Solomon Islands (Solomon Star, May 21, 2014) – The Solomon Islands Red Cross (SIRC) has been criticised for spending thousands of dollars on renting rooms for its staff at the Rock Haven Inn.

A concerned citizen Robert Leitimoe raised his concern following the incident on Friday night where angry victims took the law into their own hands to loot and burn the shops at King George.

"Whilst we strongly critics such actions of our people, it is also important that agencies responsible for relief efforts to the disaster victims don’t live luxury lives and continue to enjoy money donated for the relief efforts," Leitimoe said.

Leitimoe questioned why officers of Red Cross seem to enjoy living at the Rock Haven Inn whilst people are suffering in the evacuation centres.

He said officers working for Red Cross are accommodated at the Inn and fed every day.

"Most of the times they are making a lot of noise getting drunk and enjoy their time. This does not show a good picture to our victims who have turned violent because what they need was not given to them. Maybe if this money used for renting these rooms is used instead to support these victims, it would make positive impacts to their lives," Leitimoe claimed.

The Inn has confirmed with this paper that Red Cross has rented three rooms. Two family sized rooms at a cost of $1100 per night and a basic room at $550 per night.

The Solomon Star uncovers that these rooms were occupied since the 8 th of April 2014.

Asked how long these rooms will be engaged for, one staff at the Inn said he does not know but said it could depend entirely on the recovery work which could take months.

Rough estimates at current room prices will bring the total costs for renting these rooms to date(42 days) at $115,000.

It was further reported that if this cost includes food and travel expenses of these officers the cost would have hit close to $200,000 already just for the past 42 days.

"Such huge money could have been used to relief and rehabilitate the victims. I am surprised to see these officers enjoying themselves there at Rock Haven Inn. This is not on,"Leitimoe said.

Leitimoe added that to his understanding the Red Cross officers will occupy those rooms for four months.

If this was the case, total estimate costs to rent the rooms would be $330,000 excluding the cost for food for these officers.

However the staff at the inn indicated that the cost for each room could be a little less if there is an arrangement made with the bosses.

It was reported that more than 10 people were living in these rooms.

The Solomon Star could not able to get SI Red Cross to comment.

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