FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Contact: Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (New York and Boston): firstname.lastname@example.org, +1-617-652-0876
Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (Port-au-Prince): email@example.com, +509-3701-9879
Cholera Victims to Protest as UN Security Council Lands in Haiti
Call on UN to Deliver on Promised Response by MINUSTAH Withdrawal
Wednesday, June 21, Boston, Port-au-Prince—Haitian cholera victims and their advocates called on the UN Security Council to deliver on the promise of a new, victim-centered approach to cholera during its visit to Haiti this week, by meeting directly with victims and committing to funding the $400 million initiative before MINUSTAH –the peacekeeping mission that caused the cholera epidemic—pulls out in October.
“The UN’s apology and promises were promising in December,“ said Mario Joseph, Managing Attorney of the Bureau des Avocats Internationaux (BAI) that has led the fight for justice for cholera victims. “But seven months later, with only a pittance raised for the so-called ‘New Approach’ and not a single promised consultation with the cholera victims, they look like empty public relations gestures. It is time for the UN to deliver.”
The 15-member Security Council is in Haiti from June 22-24 to finalize the transition from MINUSTAH to a new mission focused on supporting justice that will be known as MINUJUSTH. The BAI announced two protests during the visit: one at the UN logistics base in Haiti on Thursday at 11 am, and a second one in Champs de Mars on Friday at 11. Advocates at the Institute for Justice & Democracy in Haiti (IJDH) simultaneously launched an international campaign calling on Member States to contribute their fair share to the New Approach by MINUSTAH’s closure. The campaign was launched on www.time2deliver.org.
“The UN Member States brought MINUSTAH to Haiti, and they have a collective responsibility to pay for the damage caused by its peacekeeping operations,” said Sienna Merope-Synge, IJDH Staff Attorney. “They must either contribute their fair share, or agree to draw funds from the UN’s budget by MINUSTAH’s withdrawal.”
To date, the UN has raised only 2% of the $400 million promised to implement its New Approach to Cholera in Haiti — a plan intended to eliminate cholera and provide remedies to the hundreds of thousands who have suffered from the epidemic. As a result of the funding shortfall, implementation has stalled, and the UN has refused to begin even consulting with victims about the plan.
On Tuesday, the Secretary-General appointed a new high-level special envoy, Josette Sheeran, to lead the fundraising efforts. Ms. Sheeran has a strong record of leadership, including as the former head of the World Food Program, and has previously raised billions of dollars for UN humanitarian efforts. But she is the third senior official to be assigned to the cholera issue. Her two predecessors did not succeed at raising any substantial funds.
“Ms. Sheeran’s nomination is a welcome acknowledgement of the UN’s predicament, of launching a justice support mission while the organization continues to disdain its well-documented legal obligations to Haiti’s cholera victims,” said Brian Concannon, Executive Director of IJDH. “But her efforts and experience will bear no results unless the Secretary-General and Security Council Members provide leadership. They led enough to find $7 billion for MINUSTAH peacekeepers in a country that had no war, they now need to lead enough to find $400 million for a real cholera epidemic their troops introduced.”
“Promoting rule of law requires abiding by the rule of law. The UN cannot succeed in its mission unless it sheds its double standard and complies with its obligations to repair the harms it caused,” said Beatrice Lindstrom, IJDH Staff Attorney.
Cholera continues to take a grave toll in Haiti, infecting thousands each month, and killing at a rate of one Haitian each day. The UN estimates 30,000 Haitians will contract the disease this year, and the country remains vulnerable to a resurgence of deaths, with few improvements to water, sanitation and health care since the height of the epidemic. For the thousands of families who lost loved ones and livelihoods, the financial and emotional consequences of cholera continue to impose a crushing burden long after the disease has passed.