Rights group blasts UN for Haiti cholera inaction
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The United Nations has not done enough to honor its promises to the victims of the Haiti cholera epidemic, a disease introduced by peacekeepers in 2010, independent human rights experts said Thursday.
“Serious shortfalls in funding and expenditures make the UN’s promises illusory,” experts from the UN’s human rights office told Secretary-General Antonio Guterres.
“Despite initially seeking $400 million over two years, the UN has raised a mere $20.5 million in about three years and has spent a pitiful $3.2 million,” they said.
“This is a deeply disappointing showing following the loss of 10,000 lives,” they added.
Guterres’ spokesman said the secretary general “has been strongly committed to supporting the people of Haiti and the fight against cholera.”
“He reiterates the United Nations’ deep regrets for the loss of life and suffering caused by the cholera epidemic,” spokesman Stephane Dujarric said in a statement.
Dujarric added that the UN and its agencies have mobilized more than $139 million to fight cholera since the beginning of the outbreak.
Cholera was introduced in Haiti in October 2010 after the poor handling of wastewater at a UN camp housing soldiers from Nepal.
Met with the country’s precarious sanitary conditions and insufficient medical facilities, the bacteria spread quickly throughout Haiti and hundreds of people died in the first weeks alone.
The UN recognized its moral responsibility for the outbreak in 2016 but has continued to deny its legal liability, a position which human rights advocates have contested.
“Asking UN Member States to make a charitable contribution is entirely different from payments linked to a legal obligation,” the expert group said in its letter Thursday.
There have not been any recorded cases of cholera for 15 months in Haiti, though it is necessary to go three years without a single patient to declare the epidemic over.
Since October 2010, some 10,000 Haitians have died from cholera, with 800,000 others infected. (AFP)