UN chief in Haiti launches sanitation program (Update)

July 14, 2014 by Pierre-Richard Luxama
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon greets residents during the launching of sanitation campaign in Hinche, Haiti, Monday, July 14, 2014. The Secretary-General arrived in rural Haiti on Monday to help launch a program to improve sanitation and fight the spread of cholera, a disease that many Haitians blame U.N. peacekeepers for introducing to the impoverished Caribbean country. ( AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon visited rural Haiti on Monday to help launch a program to improve sanitation and fight the spread of cholera, a disease many Haitians blame U.N. peacekeepers for introducing to the impoverished Caribbean country.

An outbreak of the disease that followed Haiti's devastating earthquake in 2010 has killed more than 8,500 people and sickened about 700,000. Studies have shown cholera-infected waste likely was inadvertently introduced in one of Haiti's biggest rivers by troops from Nepal, where the disease is endemic.

The outbreak is the subject of three lawsuits in U.S. courts, including one filed this year by nearly 1,500 Haitians seeking compensation from the U.N. A previous claim by cholera victims was rejected by Ban and the U.N., which cited diplomatic immunity.

At a church service in the village of Los Palmas, Ban said that he knew the cholera epidemic "caused much anger and fear" in Haiti and that the disease "continues to affect an unacceptable number of people."

"As secretary-general of the United Nations, I want to assure you that the United Nations and its partners are strongly committed to ending the epidemic as quickly as possible," he said.

In 2012, Ban announced a $2.2 billion initiative to help eradicate cholera in Hispaniola, the island shared by Haiti and the Dominican Republic. But the program has not attracted nearly enough foreign donors.

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, center wearing blue cap, greets residents during the launching of sanitation campaign in Hinche, Haiti, Monday, July 14, 2014. The Secretary-General arrived in rural Haiti on Monday to help launch a program to improve sanitation and fight the spread of cholera, a disease that many Haitians blame U.N. peacekeepers for introducing to the impoverished Caribbean country. ( AP Photo/Dieu Nalio Chery)

Ban's visit was criticized by some in Haiti who said the U.N. must accept responsibility for introducing the disease and provide compensation to families.

"It is an insult to all Haitians for the secretary-general to come to Haiti for a photo-op when he refuses to take responsibility for the thousands of Haitians killed and the hundreds of thousands sickened by the U.N. cholera epidemic," said Mario Joseph, a leading lawyer for Haitian cholera victims.

On Monday, Ban and Prime Minister Laurent Lamothe launched an initiative dubbed "Total Sanitation" aimed at boosting sanitation and hygiene in rural areas. Most of Haiti's 10 million people have no access to bathrooms, giving the country the worst sanitation access in the Western Hemisphere and providing fertile ground for cholera.

Later in the capital, Ban met with President Michel Martelly and discussed Haiti's upcoming legislative and municipal elections, among other topics.

An accord setting Oct. 26 as election day has not been authorized by the Senate, where a group of Martelly opponents argue it is unconstitutional.

Ban said he was encouraged by Martelly's "strong commitment" to holding the long-delayed elections in October, but expressed some concern there was still disagreement between the executive and legislative branches.

Explore further: Security Council urges UN to combat Haiti cholera

Related Stories

Security Council urges UN to combat Haiti cholera

October 10, 2013
The Security Council urged the United Nations on Thursday to keep up efforts to combat cholera in Haiti in a resolution extending the mandate of the peacekeeping force whose soldiers have been widely blamed for starting the ...

UN: Haiti has more cholera than any other nation

March 24, 2014
Haiti's cholera outbreak is still the worst in the world, the top U.N. envoy there said Monday.

UN chief tells US it will combat cholera in Haiti

July 6, 2013
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 ...

Study: UN should be accountable for Haiti cholera (Update)

August 6, 2013
The United Nations peacekeeping mission in Haiti should be held accountable for introducing cholera into the Caribbean nation, a Yale University report said Tuesday.

Haiti victims file cholera lawsuit against UN (Update)

October 9, 2013
Victims of a Haiti cholera epidemic Wednesday filed a lawsuit demanding compensation from the United Nations over an outbreak that killed more than 8,300 people.

Dominican Republic, Haiti in 10-year cholera fight

October 8, 2012
(AP)—Officials in Haiti and the Dominican Republic are preparing for a long campaign against cholera, the water-borne disease that has sickened tens of thousands of people in the two neighboring Caribbean countries.

Recommended for you

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

Vaccines protect fetuses from Zika infection, mouse study shows

July 13, 2017
Zika virus causes a mild, flu-like illness in most people, but to pregnant women the dangers are potentially much worse. The virus can reduce fetal growth, cause microcephaly, an abnormally small head associated with brain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.