Unjustified Social Media Chatter About Red Cross Beneficiaries

Anže Malovrh/STA

Original article (in Slovenian) was published on 24/6/2024; Authors: Eva Gračanin

The Slovenian Red Cross clarified that humanitarian aid is provided to all materially deprived individuals who have proper documentation from relevant authorities, and that anyone can transport beneficiaries to collection centers.

On June 19, an X user SvobodaBlog posted a video of a woman putting boxes with the organization’s logo in a BMW X6 in front of the Slovenian Red Cross humanitarian center on Tržaška Street in Ljubljana. He wrote, ironically: “The fact that people have to go to the Red Cross in an X6 really is proof that we do not have a wide enough social safety net.”

The post, which was probably originally posted by the user Voranc, had more than 74,000 views and 274 shares as of the time of writing; it was also shared by the president of the nationalist SNS party, Zmago Jelinčič, and covered by the news portals Nova24, Moja Dolenjska and Regional Obala.

This is not the first time that social media users have published posts accusing Red Cross beneficiaries of owning luxury cars and claiming that they do not need social assistance.

Screenshot, X

In a response on its website, the Slovenian Red Cross explained that humanitarian aid is provided to all people in need who have proof of their status from competent institutions, such as social work centres.

Recipients are required to provide the necessary supporting documents when collecting parcels, and the Red Cross keeps a record of the recipients by name, the type and amount of aid granted, and the date when they received the aid.

Applicants must prove their eligibility for material assistance by providing evidence of their personal income and the status of their family members, for example bank statements showing minimum personal income, pay slips, pension statements, or a Social Work Center decision on social assistance in cash or a supplementary allowance, a special cash benefit for low-income people.

They also pointed out that anyone can drive beneficiaries to distribution centers and that it is not their responsibility to check who the beneficiaries are. Often, people ask acquaintances, friends or neighbors for help with transport, they added.

The financing of Red Cross activities is defined in detail in a law which stipulates that activities under the organization’s public mandate, such as blood donation, first aid and disaster relief, are financed by the state from the budget. Social protection and humanitarian activities may additionally be co-financed by municipalities.

In 2022, the Slovenian Red Cross provided food from the Fund for European Aid to the Most Deprived and the REACT-EU facility, as well as from dedicated funds from the Slovenian Foundation for the Financing of Humanitarian Organizations and the national fundraising campaign It’s Nice to Share. In addition, regional associations procured 394.4 tonnes of food products and 68.9 tonnes of hygiene products using own funds plus donations and fundraising campaigns.

Since we were unable to contact the user SvobodaBlog via X and they had not posted a second contact online, we asked them for their contact details under the post in question in order to send them a request to comment on the source and authenticity of the post. We are still waiting for a reply.

The claim that Slovenia does not have a wide enough social safety net because Red Cross beneficiaries arrive in expensive cars to receive humanitarian aid is unjustified.

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