The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child issued a brief but stark warning about the threat posed to Haitian children by gang violence, cholera, and malnutrition. The situation in Haiti is difficult, but especially so for children. Emboldened gangs, a growing cholera epidemic, and worsening malnutrition are negatively impacting the well-being of Haitian children. The government is weak, the gangs are in many cases better armed than the police, and core development issues like agriculture, education, infrastructure, and human rights have once again taken a back seat to insecurity. Restoring security won't solve Haiti's problems but it is at least a prequisite.
More than 850,000 Haitians have been infected with Cholera and 10,000 have died from it since being introduced by United Nations (UN) peacekeepers ten years ago. There has been no compensation provided by the UN and its member states. When the United Nations accepts no accountability for actions, it its less able to demand accountability from others. While the UN has at times been benefical to Haiti, its unwillingess to right the wrongs of its peacekeeping forces, from sexual abuse and exploitation to cholera, undermine these efforts. The full article by Miami Herald journalist Jacqueline Charles follows.
The United Kingdom and the United States are blocking the re-purposing of leftover UN funds already designated for Haiti that could potentially support woefully under-resourced cholera response programming. As the United Nations now acknowledges, although only as of last year, UN Peacekeeping Forces brought cholera to Haiti. The epidemic affected hundreds of thousands of Haitians and killed 10,000. To not allow unused funds to the cholera effort is both misugided and mean-spirited. Friends of Haiti in both the United States and the United Kingdom should make their voices heard to their elected officials on this important issue. The full article in The Guardian follow.
On December 1st, outgoing United Nations (UN) Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon offered an apology of sorts, expressing reget for not doing enough to respond to cholera while not admitting that it was caused by the poor sanitation practices of UN Peacekeepers. Had this apology been made five years ago, coupled with a committment to bring an end to the outbreak no matter how long necessary, it would have meant something. Coming months before he leaves office, one has the impression that the outbreak was not a priority until recently, that he is seeking to tie up the loose ends of his legacy before stepping down, or both. The full article by IRIN writer Samuel Oakford is below and information on efforts to hold the United Nations accountable can be found at the Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti (IJDH).
As one of the few countries in the world where sanitation had gotten worse over the past twenty years, Haiti was highly vulnerable to the cholera outbreak in 2010. After years of obfuscation, the United Nations has finally admitted that the epidemic was imported by UN peacekeepers. That it has happened at all is testament to the efforts of Haitian civil society and the advocacy of organizations like the Institute of Democracy and Justice in Haiti. The UN intends to release a response plan in two weeks. More information from AFP follows.