Haiti PM wants joint UN commission to deal with cholera issue

PORT-AU-PRINCE, Haiti (HCNN) — The Haitian prime minister said on Monday that he has asked the United Nations to join Haiti in creating a high level committee tasked with overseeing efforts and securing funds to help eradicate cholera allegedly brought to the Caribbean country by UN Nepalese blue berets.

Laurent Lamothe said the UN has a moral responsibility in providing the necessary means to help eradicate cholera and support families of victims, as he proposed concrete steps likely to facilitate the accomplishment of such goals.

“We want the UN to allocate a significant part of the global fund against cholera to Haiti, so that we may take the fight against cholera to another level and support those affected by the consequences of the epidemic,” Lamothe told HCNN on Monday.

“I met with the head of the UN mission in Haiti and I told her that we imperatively need to set up a joint committee to deal with the crucial cholera issue,” he said.

Lamothe met on Friday with the UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative in Haiti and head of the UN mission, Sandra Honore, on the creation of the joint committee, the wording of its terms of reference and the need to allot significant amounts to fund anti-cholera efforts.

Another high-level UN functionary, special envoy Pedro Medrano, also attended the discussions, which will resume within the coming days, when both parties are expected to sign a protocol on how to meet the expectations of the Haitian people, in general, and affected families, in particular.

Several independent international experts have published studies that confirmed that the kind of Vibrio Cholerae that caused the disease outbreak in Haiti in October 2010 originated from Nepal, from where a UN military contingent had just arrived.

The epidemic has killed more than 8,000 people and caused several hundred thousand others to be hospitalized. Through internationally-applauded efforts by Haiti and its partners, the disease spreading capacity has significantly been contained.

However, cholera remains a significant threat to people’s lives in the country’s vulnerable areas. Several cases are often reported, particularly during rainy seasons, even though the number of deadly cases has dramatically reduced or become nil.

An international law group, representing the interests of Haiti’s victimized families, last week filed a lawsuit in New York seeking to obligate the UN to provide compensation to families that lost loved ones in the cholera epidemic.

The UN has so far refused to provide direct compensation to families of victims and has been reluctant even to comment publicly the matter, other than assuring that the UN will continue to help with ongoing programs to fight cholera in Haiti.

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