UNICEF is under fire for saying it will spending the donations it solicits on behalf of Japanese earthquake victims on anything it likes.
UNICEF Japan is energetically soliciting donations for quake victims in Touhoku and elsewhere:
“The donations we receive will be used to aid [tsunami-affected] disaster victims, with an emphasis on children.”
At the heart of the issue is UNICEF’s statement that “if we receive more than adequate funds to use in our emergency relief […] the excess funds may be used in other countries for disaster relief or other purposes.”
They offer several such provisos:
“Further, if we receive more funds than required for the current emergency (should it be judged no further aid from UNICEF or UNICEF Japan is required in the area), please be aware that they can be used to provide aid in conflict or disaster areas, etc., in other areas or regions UNICEF is active in.”
In Japan, the announcement has provoked anger amongst donors who naturally expected a domestic Japanese charity which has plastered its homepage with pleas for quake donations would actually use the money to help quake victims rather than squander it on the usual ineffectual African aid programs.
Some have gone so far as to condemn the way in which Unicef is gathering donations – using the quake to incite sympathy and solicit donations, but refusing to offer any assurance funds will actually be used for quake relief – as outright deceitful.
Given UNICEF Japan’s history of lavish spending on buildings, travel and marketing, as well as its active political lobbying for censorship, such concerns appear well founded.
UNICEF Japan itself is a regional chapter of the actual UN UNICEF organisation – thus quake donations to UNICEF proper may or may not be earmarked for actual quake victims, but there is also a distinct possibility funds would be passed from UNICEF to UNICEF Japan in the same way that UNICEF Japan passes funds (minus its cut) to UNICEF proper.
In any case, the wisdom of donating money to aid quake victims to an organisation whose sole interest is in aiding children is questionable at best – under the circumstances, the Red Cross may be a more appropriate conduit.
UNICEF’s notorious censorship ambassador Agnes Chan has also been attracting less than favourable attention of late.
After taking criticism for seemingly being more interested in folding origami cranes for the quake victims than actually doing anything to alleviate their plight, with much fanfare she finally announced she had made a substantial donation from her own personal fortune.
However, the 10 million yen she generously donated to quake relief was actually given to Unicef Japan, the same body she holds a prominent leadership position in, leading some to suspect a possible conflict of interest – or worse.