Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

UN Spokesperson Comments on Cholera in Haiti

Below is a partial transcript of the UN’s daily press briefing, in which a journalist from Al Jazeera English poses questions to UN Deputy Spokesperson Farhan Haq. Haq was questioned about Haiti’s current importance to the United Nations. In particular, he was asked about the intended $2.2 billion fund set up for Haiti cholera that is now less than 20% funded. He was also questioned about the UN Senior Coordinator in charge of the cholera response leaving his position.

Daily Press Briefing by the Office of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General

United Nations

May 25, 2016

Question:  Farhan, if I can ask you for an update on what has become a bit of a forgotten crisis, if we go back over three years ago, the Secretary‑General announced that… with the Haitian Government they were going to set up a fund, $2.2 billion, to help the people of Haiti.  Given that most experts believe the UN actually brought the cholera to Haiti, is the Secretary‑General upset, even ashamed, that that fund is now still less than 20 per cent funded?

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, certainly, as with many of the funds and projects that we have around the world, we want to see them all fully funded, and this is a very clear case where, if you have the right amount of money in place, you can have the right amount of interventions, whether they be vaccinations or improvements in Haiti’s sanitation and health infrastructure.  And that could drive the number of new cases and the number of deaths downwards.  At the same time, the work that we’re doing is proceeding.  I did receive an update from our health agencies on the ground, so the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF are currently supporting the Haitian Ministry of Public Health and Population in a vaccination campaign against cholera.  And the intention is to reach 400,000 people this year.  That campaign was launched first on 11 May in a town called Arcahaie, which is north of Port‑au‑Prince.  And what the campaign aims is to provide two doses of oral vaccine to some 118,000 people this month and next month.  And that vaccine would basically provide between three and five years of protection against cholera.  So we’re… that’s kicked off.  And for that campaign, for both… for the phases of the campaign this year, we have an initial budget of $3.6 million.  And so we’re hoping to get full funding for that.  But, yes, you know, we do have continual challenges with funding, but we are pressing the various countries, and we do want them to support the Plan of Action by the Government of Haiti that we’re supporting, and we believe with that, we can continue to bring this downward.

Question:  A follow‑up, if I may.  You say… you’ve laid out some of the things you’re doing, but is the UN doing enough to try and get this money?  The UN had a senior coordinator for the cholera response in Haiti.  He left his post last summer.  He’s not been replaced.  And I… I understand his office has been quietly closed.

Deputy Spokesman:  Well, what happened is his office was then… the responsibilities that the official, Mr. Pedro Medrano, had, once he ended his term last summer, those responsibilities were folded back into the work of the country team, and the country team is following up…

Question:  So it’s not such a high priority now.

Deputy Spokesman:  It remains a high priority.  It doesn’t have a separate official, but the officials in‑country are handling it.  And they have been getting money.  For example, the details I have from their latest document on this is the Haitian humanitarian response plan was launched on 7 April, requesting $20.3 million for 2016 for alert and rapid response.  Out of the $20.3 million that was requested for this year, so far $10.5 million are already funded.  So we still have a gap of $9.8 million, and we’re pushing for that.  But, as you see, it’s not that there’s no money there.  There is money that’s been acquired, and we’re trying to put that to use.  Yes, Colum?

Click HERE for the full transcript

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