Institute for Justice and Democracy in Haiti

Haitian Cholera Victims React to UN Apology

December 1, 2016

Haitian cholera victims watched a live webstream of the United Nations briefing on the new cholera plan, which included a long-awaited apology from Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon. There was a spontaneous cheer and applause when Ban Ki-Moon apologized during his speech and an extraordinary atmosphere in the room. In reaction to the Secretary-General’s address, victims were clear that words aren’t enough and that concrete action on eradication and compensation is needed, but welcomed and accepted the apology itself.

These are unofficial translations:

Desir Jean-Clair, Boucan Care: This was a victory for us today. It wasn’t easy. We sent thousands of letters and were in the street to get this victory for them to say today that they were responsible. They said that and we thank them. But it can’t end there. Because today there is still cholera in all the country. I got cholera. My mother died from cholera too. This battle hasn’t finished. And they can’t just talk about this doing this in 2017; this is urgent. They need to say how much money the are giving to each person and exactly how they will eliminate cholera. Our children died, our wives died.

Unnamed, Bocozel: I accept the statement the Secretary-General made today. He admitted the UN’s responsibility. But Ban Ki-moon also needs to deal with cholera. It’s not just eradication but compensating victims. They need to put their heads together to eradicate cholera but after that, victims need compensation. People have suffered, parents lost children.
Me Jean-Charles August, Petit-Goaves: I am a teacher. I salute everyone here and the General Assembly and we accept the declaration that he [the Secretary-General] made. He said they were the ones that brought it. We’re moving forward but we’re not finished. We want eradication and compensation. So we’re asking Haitians everywhere all over the world to mobilize peacefully and join with us.
Eliza Vilne, La Chappelle: I represent the Groupman Viktim Kolera Lachapel [Grouping of cholera victims in Lachapelle] and I want to say “hold on” because the battle isn’t over. We accept this apology – it’s right that if you do wrong, you apologize. But we don’t accept the sum [$400 million] the Secretary General talked about and we don’t accept that they can give us charity. They can’t just give a little project and then it will be over; they need to compensate each victim personally.
Mme Leon Paul: I am happy with what was said today and I thank all the organizations like BAI, IJDH, MOLEGHAF and PAPDA that got us here today. What we want is for foreigners to come and sit down with us so that we can tell them what we need. We have suffered so much, people who died and people who still have cholera in their blood and are still suffering. They need to compensate us properly.
MenBana: I lost my mother to cholera. The battle hasn’t finished yet. I ask them to put their heads together and I ask them to come and sit with us and not decide for us because we aren’t asking for charity.
Transcript of cholera apology, in three languages
UN Secretary General’s report on the new plan

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