Remedies Urgently Needed for Cholera in Haiti in the Face of COVID-19

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Leslie Mullin
Leslie Mullin signed this petition

On April 30, 2020, 14 United Nations-appointed human rights experts sharply admonished the UN for denying compensation to Haiti after UN peacekeepers introduced cholera into the country in 2010. 

Cholera broke out in Haiti for the first time in the country's history because the UN Stabilisation Mission in Haiti (MINUSTAH) deployed peacekeepers from Nepal - a country then experiencing an active cholera outbreak - without adequately screening for infection. 

Peacekeepers recklessly disposed of contaminated faecal waste into Haiti's largest river. The official death toll from cholera stands at 9,789, though studies suggest the true toll may be three to 10 times higher. Nearly one million Haitians have been infected - a per capita toll that exceeds any nation impacted by COVID-19 so far.   

In 2016, then UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon issued a long overdue apology for the agency's role in introducing the disease into the country.  He also launched a $400M initiative to eliminate cholera and provide material assistance to those most affected by the epidemic. 

Since then, the UN's follow through has been pitiful and deeply disappointing, as the world body has raised only five percent of the amount needed to render Haiti whole again.  It did so opting to rely on charitable contributions over funding efforts through its budget.

Compensation for victims is legally required.  It would also save lives. Without remedies for the impacts of cholera, the COVID-19 pandemic now threatens to deal a double blow to Haiti as citizens are left without critical means to protect themselves from the new disease or the ability to absorb yet another economic shock.

In this time of extraordinary global challenges, it is more important than ever that the UN leads by example and respects human rights. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres must respond to the concerns raised in the experts' communication by committing to fund remedies through the UN's budget and compensate for the harms caused by the UN's negligence.

Please note that the language in this petition is a condensed adaptation of an op-ed by Sandra Wisner and Beatrice Lindstrom that appeared on May 22, 2020 in Al Jazeera titled COVID-19 brings renewed urgency to remedies for cholera in Haiti.