Toronto Haiti Action Committee

Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

Toronto Haiti Action Committee - Solidarity. Not Charity. Never Occupation

In the News: Stephen Lewis says United Nations must be accountable for cholera in Haiti

by Roger Annis. Originally posted on rabble.ca

Stephen Lewis

Stephen Lewis (photo by Gordon Griffiths, Apr. 2009)

Stephen Lewis, a former Canadian ambassador to the United Nations who has also served at the world agency in several other prominent postings, says the international organization must accept responsibility for the cholera epidemic that broke out in Haiti in October 2010. He says he supports the legal action against the UN that was formally launched in New York City on October 9 on behalf of the victims of the epidemic.

Lewis spelled out strongly-held views in a nine-minute interview on the national, Saturday morning newsmagazine of CBC Radio One, Day 6 on October 12.

The CBC host began the interview by asking Lewis whether he supports the action. He replied, “I do. I think it is unequivocal, the responsibility of the United Nations for the cholera outbreak.”

Lewis dismissed suggestions that definitive proof of the origin of Haiti’s cholera epidemic has not been established. The disease was not present in modern Haiti before October 2010. The epidemic, he said, “has been traced definitively to the Nepalese peacekeeping force” of the UN military mission in Haiti termed MINUSTAH.

Even the UN’s own study on the matter, he said, “came within a hair’s breath of saying ‘we were responsible’, and in fact, the independent investigations by scientists show there is no question of the origin of the cholera”.

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In the News: UN Chief Tells US it Will Combat Cholera in Haiti

by Edith M. Lederer, Associated Press.

haiti_street_protest_kolera492_2UNITED NATIONS (AP) — Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon told members of the U.S. Congress Friday that the United Nations is committed to helping Haiti overcome a cholera epidemic even though it is refusing to pay compensation to victims who blame U.N. peacekeepers for starting the outbreak.

Health officials say more than 657,000 people have fallen ill and more than 8,000 people have died from cholera since it was likely introduced to Haiti by U.N. troops from Nepal in 2010. More than 30,000 people have fallen ill and 440 have died in the neighboring Dominican Republic.

Ban was responding to a May 30 letter from U.S. Rep. Maxine Waters, a California Democrat, and 18 other Congressional “friends of the people of Haiti” who expressed concern at the U.N.’s rejection of the claims by 5,000 cholera victims and their families.

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In the News: Martelly to Haitians in South Florida: ‘Haiti has changed a lot’

by Jacqueline Charles and Nadege Green, The Miami Herald, Dec. 10, 2012

Haitian President Michel Martelly said Monday he plans to introduce an amendment in parliament giving millions of Haitians living in the diaspora, including South Florida, the right to vote in future elections. “Of course it will be up to the parliament to decide if it goes through,” Martelly said during a press conference Monday after an all-day invitation-only diaspora forum with members of the Haitian-American community at the North Miami Beach Library.

Martelly arrived in Miami over the weekend after a tour of Japan. He said he proposed the South Florida visit and the meeting with the Haitian community “to first of all thank the diaspora for their support” during his historical 2011 presidential victory and “to inform them on the progress in Haiti and finally to find a way to engage them to help us really develop Haiti.”

“I believe there is more that can be done by the diaspora,” he said. “But before we even ask for anything, I thought it was very important that we come here to not just tell them what we do, but also show them.”

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In the News: UN must make amends for cholera that organization brought to Haiti

Editorial, Boston Globe, November 13, 2012

When the international aid community descends on a vulnerable place, the first objective must be to do no harm. But all too often, good intentions make a bad situation even worse. That’s what happened two years ago, when United Nations peacekeepers arrived in Haiti in the wake of a devastating earthquake, bringing the deadly disease cholera with them.

Last year, a panel of UN experts concluded that poor sanitation at the peacekeepers’ camp was the likely cause of a terrible cholera outbreak that has so far killed 7,000 people and sickened 500,000. Their report declined to say whether the peacekeepers, the sanitation contractor, or the UN’s own inadequate health protocols were to blame for human waste getting into Haiti’s water supply. But as cholera deaths continue, new scientific evidence removes all doubt about the source of the disease: The strain of cholera that exploded in Haiti is an exact match to the cholera that exists in Nepal, the UN peacekeepers’ native country.

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