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Donors’ Meeting Shows Why Haiti Needs Justice, Not Charity

UN/World Bank Meeting Latest Failure to Raise Funds to Respond to UN Cholera in Haiti

Washington DC – Advocates for the victims of the United Nations Cholera in Haiti observed that today’s long-planned and much-heralded High-Level Donor’s Conference convened by the World Bank and United Nations to raise money for cholera eliminations was the latest failure in a long line of failures to respond to cholera without facing the United Nations’ moral and legal responsibility for bringing the epidemic to Haiti. The meeting, originally scheduled for October 2013, included Haiti’s Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon and World Bank President Jim Kim and representatives from several donor countries. It resulted in pledges of only $52.5 million, approximately 2% of the funds needed for the UN’s cholera response program.

“This is an insult to the cholera victims and to all Haitians,” said Human Rights Lawyer Mario Joseph of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux in Haiti, who represents the victims in a U.S. Federal Court lawsuit filed in New York. “After a year of talking they promise 2% of what the UN says we need, the equivalent of 38 days’ budget for MINUSTAH.”

The High Level meeting is the latest prominent event heralding the UN’s $2 billion Cholera Free Hispaniola Initiative. The Initiative was launched  in January 2012, and re-launched in December 2012 and again in February 2013. The UN and Haitian Government have also established a High-Level Committee. Secretary-General Ban announced that almost three years later, the initiative is 10% funded.

MINUSTAH is the United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti, which has been in present in the country since 2004. Haiti has not had a recognized internal or external armed conflict in over 75 years. The cholera epidemic has killed over 8,500 Haitians, and sickened over 700,000.

Vanessa Hershberger of the Mennonite Central Committee’s UN Office added: “The charity approach is clearly not working. It is absolutely shameful that the UN continues to be unable to fund the cholera eradication plan. Lack of access to clean water and sanitation has real impacts on real people. Families have lost their livelihoods because those able to work have died from cholera and many are condemned to yet another generation living in poverty. The UN can no longer ignore their moral obligation to the people of Haiti.”

“The UN has a binding international law obligation to install the water and sanitation infrastructure necessary to control the cholera epidemic, as well as compensate those injured,” said Brian Concannon of the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti, who also represents the cholera victims. “MINUSTAH has spent far more than $2 billion since cholera broke out on other things. It is a question of priorities.”

Mario Joseph added: “it is clear that the solution to Haiti’s cholera crisis will not come from Washington DC boardrooms. The solution will come, but from the courts and the streets.”

South Florida Caribbean News

The Team provides news and information for the Caribbean-American community in South Florida and beyond.

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