Years after Probe Exposed Corruption in U.S. Africa Ebola Aid, Millions Keep Flowing
Years after a federal audit exposed corruption in a multi-billion-dollar U.S. government program to combat Ebola in Africa, the money keeps flowing and the deadly virus still plagues the world’s second-largest continent. This month the Trump administration announced an additional $56 million in humanitarian assistance to help out with the ongoing outbreak of the disease in the Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). The allocation means American taxpayers have dedicated a whopping $266 million in the last year alone to assist Africans with Ebola, even as the European Commission approves a landmark vaccine that is already being administered in the region.
During the Obama administration Congress dedicated a breathtaking $2.5 billion to deal with Africa’s Ebola crisis, but the funds came with rules to keep the allocation process in check. A federal investigation revealed that those laws were violated in a frantic effort to dole out tens of millions of dollars to leftist groups that claimed they could help control the virus from spreading throughout Africa. At least $60 million was fraudulently dispersed to nongovernmental organizations and other efforts without the proper steps to assure the American taxpayer funds were going to valid groups and causes, according to the probe, which was released in 2016. This has not deterred the cash flow under the Trump administration.
As is the case in many global humanitarian situations, the U.S. is the largest single country donor to the Ebola response, according to government figures. Besides sending cash, Uncle Sam also has a “Disaster-Assistance Response Team” in the DRC consisting of disaster and health experts from various government agencies. The U.S. is providing life-saving assistance through on-the-ground partners, including activities to prevent and control infections in health facilities, enhanced surveillance for the disease, training for healthcare workers, community engagement efforts and the “promotion of safe and dignified burials” as well as “food to support people and communities affected by Ebola.”
In announcing its latest multi-million-dollar allocation, the U.S. also reveals that it is broadening services. “Due to the persistent transmission of Ebola, ongoing insecurity, and the need for community buy-in, the United States has expanded its response to address additional critical needs in Ebola-affected communities,” according to the recently issued statement. “This includes supporting primary health-care facilities, rehabilitating water and sanitation infrastructure, providing nutritional support, protection services, and economic recovery-opportunities, while simultaneously financing direct efforts to contain the outbreak.” The U.S. is also funding “critical preparedness efforts” in neighboring countries such as Rwanda, South Sudan, Burundi, Uganda and Tanzania as well as “unaffected, but at-risk areas of the DRC.” In the announcement the government “strongly encourages” other donors to provide additional financial and technical support for the cause.
Though American tax dollars keep flowing to this cause at least the Trump administration got rid of Obama’s outrageous Ebola amnesty, which was launched as a “temporary” protection that was simply renewed when it expired. Obama created the special amnesty for illegal immigrants from Africa in 2014 “due to the outbreak of Ebola virus disease in West Africa.” When the protection expired in March, 2016, the administration extended it. Besides nationals of Liberia, Guinea and Sierra Leone, it also covered “people without nationality who last habitually resided in one of those three countries.” Not only were those illegal aliens shielded from deportation, they were also authorized to work in the U.S. under the policy. In the middle of 2017, Trump eliminated the African Ebola amnesty. In a statement issued by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), the administration revealed that the widespread transmission of Ebola virus in the three countries that led to the protected designation had ended.