Dec 13 2012
The United Nations has announced a ten year $2.27 billion dollar program to end cholera in Haiti. UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon is seeking donations to fund the plan which will focus mostly on improving Haiti’s poor water and sanitation infrastructure which helps spread the disease. Cholera has killed close to 8,000 people in the tiny island nation of Haiti since the first outbreak in 2010 and has seen a surge of new cases following tropical storm Sandy. The World Health Organization found that there were more cholera cases in Haiti last year than the rest of the world combined, with 6% of the population infected with the disease.
And yet, prior to 2010, Haiti had not seen a single case of cholera. A UN peacekeeping mission from Nepal which was sent in following the devastating earthquake of 2010, is thought to have brought the disease into the country. Despite conclusive scientific evidence tracing the disease back to the Nepalese peacekeepers who dumped their human sewage into the waters of the Artibonite River, the UN says that the epidemic is not caused by “any group or individual”. Outraged by the UN’s indifference, a group of lawyers and grassroots organizers filed a multi-billion dollar claim against the United Nations on behalf of 5,000 plaintiffs last year.
Following the 2010 earthquake governments pledged $5.3 billion dollars to help rebuild the country. But so far, only a little over half of that money has been collected. The US Government has only given 28 percent of the $900 million dollars which it had originally pledged. In the absence of international support, grassroots non-governmental organizations are filling the relief vacuum to help Haitians rebuild.
GUEST: Walter Riley, Chair of the Board of the Haiti Emergency Relief Fund
Visit www.haitiemergencyrelief.org for more information.