Mia Farrow Rapped for Urging Aid to American Red Cross for Haiti Earthquake

Mia Farrow was reprimanded by social media users after she encouraged donations to the American Red Cross in the aftermath of a deadly earthquake in Haiti.

A powerful magnitude 7.2 earthquake struck Haiti on Saturday, killing at least 304 people in a nation already reeling from the coronavirus pandemic and the recent assassination of its president.

Farrow urged people to donate to several organizations in two tweets on Saturday. In one tweet, she listed the American Red Cross as one of the "best aid organizations working in Haiti."

But the tweets prompted a flood of replies urging people not to donate to the American Red Cross, citing the charity's reported mismanagement of donations in the wake of a devastating earthquake that struck Haiti in 2010.

A few of the best aid organizations working in Haiti. The American Red Cross
Partners in Health
Save the children, Doctors Without Borders, The World Food Programme, UNICEF pic.twitter.com/UXjKLETI9H

— Mia Farrow (@MiaFarrow) August 14, 2021

"As a Haitian I say other than Doctors Without Borders Do Not Donate to these organizations, especially the Red Cross which failed Haiti terribly last earthquake," one user wrote.

Jonathan LaMare, whose Twitter bio describes him as a global humanitarian relief worker, wrote: "The American Red Cross is NOT a reputable org for helping Haiti. They are the ones who raised $500 million and did NOTHING with it except squander it."

Some replies cited the NPR and ProPublica investigation published in 2015 that found the American Red Cross had constructed just six permanent homes in Haiti after collecting almost $500 million dollars in donations to help the nation rebuild after the 2010 quake.

NPR and ProPublica's series of articles about the American Red Cross's failings prompted a congressional inquiry into the charity's response to the 2010 earthquake by Sen. Chuck Grassley.

The inquiry revealed in June 2016 that the charity had spent a quarter of the donations from the 2010 earthquake—almost $125 million—on its own internal expenses. Top officials at the charity stonewalled congressional investigators, limited the scope of the review, and had a poorly staffed ethics and investigations unit, the inquiry also found

"There are substantial and fundamental concerns about ARC as an organization," Grassley wrote in a memo summarizing his inquiry.

In a statement to Newsweek on Sunday, the American Red Cross said Haitian Red Cross teams "are helping with search-and-rescue efforts and providing first aid as families cope with uncertainty and continued aftershocks" after Saturday's earthquake.

The statement added: "The American Red Cross strongly disputes ProPublica and NPR's reporting of our past work in Haiti. Contrary to accusations, the American Red Cross has made a significant impact in Haiti, including investment in more than 50 hospitals and clinics, safer housing for more than 22,000 families, funding for the country's first wastewater treatment plant, support for Haiti's first-ever cholera vaccination campaign and so much more.

"Americans donated generously in the aftermath of the Haiti earthquake to save lives — which is exactly what their donations did. In fact, we spent nearly one-third of donations on helping keep people alive in the first six months alone."

The statement also pointed to the charity's breakdown of how it spent the almost $500 million received in donations, as of November 2019.

Some people had previously urged against donating to the American Red Cross when Hurricane Matthew hit Haiti a few months after Grassley's report was released in 2016.

France Francois, a Haitian American who had previously worked as a development worker in Haiti, told people to instead send their money to "Haitian-led" organizations in a post that went viral.

She told the Washington Post at the time: "We wanted to highlight the fact that there are local organizations on the ground that can mobilize quickly and more effectively than an organization parachuting in from Washington or Europe."

In response to the growing skepticism about the American Red Cross, the charity's president and CEO Gail McGovern decried the "persistent myths circulating online" about the charity's response to the 2010 earthquake in an op-ed for HuffPost in late 2016.

McGovern blamed them on "the misleading headline of a story written by ProPublica and NPR in 2015."

"It creates the false impression that the only thing the American Red Cross did with $488M in donor money was to build six homes—when, in fact, we have funded 100 different humanitarian aid projects in Haiti," she wrote.

McGovern suggested these "myths" would "cause generous donors to question whether to give and make it harder for us to help the Haitian people. It could even erode trust in foreign aid in general. That would be a tragedy for Haiti."

Farrow's representatives could not immediately be reached for comment.

Update 8/15/21, 11.45 a.m. ET: This article has been updated with a statement from the American Red Cross.

Mia Farrow
Mia Farrow speaks onstage during ELLE's 25th Annual Women In Hollywood Celebration at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on October 15, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Michael Kovac/Getty Images for ELLE Magazine